Grant to benefit study of iron nanoparticles in soil

Michelle Scherer, professor and departmental executive officer of civil and environmental engineering in the UI College of Engineering, Robert Wheeler Faculty Fellow of Engineering, and researcher in the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute at UI, and IIHR–Hydroscience and Engineering, has received a three-year, $259,884 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to study the behavior of iron nanoparticles in soils, effective Sept. 1.

Titled “Collaborative Research: Stable Isotope Investigation of Fe Oxide Reactivity and Natural Isotope Fractionation,” the project involves an analysis of the molecular-level reactions of iron nanoparticles in soils. Recent work by Scherer and her graduate students has shown that metals may be reacting with more than just the surfaces of iron minerals in soils.

Scherer’s colleagues on the project include Clark Johnson and Brian Beard from the Department of Geoscience at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The work supported by this collaborative grant will bring together researchers and students from geology and engineering, applying a unique isotopic approach to understanding the behavior of iron nanoparticles in soils. The results will have direct application to studies of ancient climate changes, agricultural practices, and water quality.