Graphic designed by Lou Jones, Agronomy Dept., Purdue University

Linda S. Lee

Area: Environmental Chemistry

Current Graduate Students

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Kavitha Dasu (Ph.D.) Project Description:  Perfluorinated surface-active compounds, such as perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluoro octanoic acid (PFOA) are identified worldwide in the biota, human blood and also in the remote areas like Arctic regions and are considered to be potentially toxic. PFOS and PFOA are the degradation products of fluorotelomer based compounds such as those used as coatings on commercial products. My current research involves quantifying in soil sorption and the abiotic and biotic transformation products and rates of the monomers used to make fluorotelomer-urethane polymer, which imparts soil and stain resistance properties for textiles and carpets. The purpose of this study is towards assessing  if the degradation products of urethane polymer are contributing to the formation of FTOHs and subsequently to PFOA.
Izabel Jannotto (Ph.D.) Project Description:  
Michael Mashtare (Ph.D.) Project Description:  


Laurel Royer (Ph.D.)

Project Description:  Since the 1950s, fluorotelomer chemicals have been used to manufacture inks, paints, caulks, adhesives, surfactants, fire-fighting foams, hair care products, cosmetics, nonstick surfaces, and protective coatings for clothing, carpets, leather, paper, and upholstery. Research is needed for improving our understanding of the environmental fate of these chemicals that have become an essential part of our daily lives. My work specifically focuses on the environmental fate and transformation of a series of perfluorinated acrylate (PFA) and perfluorinated methacrylate (PFMA) monomers and polymers. By amending soils with these compounds under conditions that mimic those of the environment, I am able to monitor the stability and hence the susceptibility of these compounds to microbial degradation. The results of experiments where PFA and PFMA monomers were incubated in soils and analyzed over time show that microbes attack these compounds and yield pollutants that have been detected in the environment. My experiments with monomers provide insight on how more complex polymers may behave in the environment; however, experiments with larger PFA and PFMA polymers are essential as the use or disposal of consumer products coated with these polymers truly pose a significant risk to the environment and human health. I am also probing fungi-mediated transformation pathways that may play a contributing role in the environmental transformation of the fluorotelomer suite of chemicals of interest to us. Fungi are very complex microorganisms, however their function and mechanism of action to degrade complex biopolymers (e.g., lignin and cellulose) is intriguing. It is this catalytic powerhouse that we hope to exploit. Armed with more information, society will be better equipped to make regulatory decisions and achieve a balance between manufacturing products that enhance our quality of life and protecting our environment.

Stephen Sassman
Analytical Chemist
Project Description:  My primary research interest is the development of analytical methodology for analysis of environmental samples using liquid or gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. I am investigating the occurrence and fate of endocrine disrupting compounds originating from confined animal feeding operations. Another project under investigation deals the presence and degradation of halogenated organic pollutants in environmental samples. I am also responsible for teaching graduate students how to use the analytical instrumentation and performing regular maintenance on the instruments. Currently, I am in charge of maintaining several gas and liquid chromatographs, a liquid chromatograph tandem mass spectrometer, a gas chromatograph tandem mass spectrometer, an atomic absorption spectrometer, and an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer. I obtained a Master of Science degree in chemistry from Texas State University in 1999, and came to Purdue in 2000 to work as a laboratory manager for Dr. Linda Lee. I operate a <a href=””>website dedicated to analytical chemistry</a> which runs on a linux server in my spare bedroom. More information about me including my resume is available at my <a href=””>personal website</a>.