Abinash Agrawal, Ph.D.

Earth and Environmental Sciences
Professor, Earth & Enviromental Sciences
Brehm Laboratory 268, 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy., Dayton, OH 45435-0001


Dr. Agrawal's teaching includes a sequence of two courses for an in-depth study of the sources, transformation, and the fate of contaminants in the groundwater and its remediation techniques. The first recommended course in the sequence begins in Spring semester. The students should complete 2 semesters of undergraduate chemistry coursework before they register for EES 4560/6560 (Ground Water Contamination).

Fall Semester

EES 4570/6570: Site Remediation and Management, 3 Credit Hrs (Pre-requisite: EES 4560/6560) This upper-level class investigates the physical, chemical, and biological methods used to remediate contamination in soils and groundwater.  Emphasis is on practical applications.  Strategies and technologies to address contamination, including the no-action alternative, natural attenuation, containment techniques, pump-and-treat, and in situ technologies, will be reviewed in sufficient technical detail so the student can apply the basic engineering design equations.  Included is a review of regulatory requirements and a discussion of economic constraints that play important roles in the selection of appropriate remediation strategies and treatment technologies. Learning Outcome: Through this course, the student will be able to do the following:

  • Understand the basic physical, chemical, and biological principles upon which environmental remediation technologies are based.  Understand the engineering, economic, and regulatory limitations of these technologies.
  • Understand what data are required to select from remedial action alternatives.
  • Be able to apply the knowledge of engineering principles and regulatory constraints in order to determine a remedial action strategy and select technologies to implement the strategy for a given data set at a site.

Spring Semester

EES 4560/6560: Ground Water Contamination, 3 Credit Hrs This upper-level course will provide a review of the common anthropogenic contamination distribution in the groundwater. The emphasis is on contaminant degradation mechanisms (called Natural Attenuation) by physical, chemical and microbial processes affecting their fate in soil and water (aquatic environment) that have been reported in last 2 decades.  This course provides the much-needed background for entry-level positions in environmental consulting, and also for the professional development of working geoscientists/environmental scientists. This course is a recommended elective for the Site Remediation course (offered every fall semester). Learning Outcome: Through this course, the student will be able to do the following:

  • Understand the key environmental pollutants, both natural and anthropogenic, and their sources; this includes organic (chlorinated solvents, petroleum hydrocarbons, MTBE, PPCP, and pesticides), inorganic (toxic metals, nutrients, perchlorate, radionuclides, emergent contaminants) and biological (pathogens) pollutants.
  • Understand the basic mechanisms of pollutant degradation and fate, by natural attenuation processes in the environmental systems. This will include an understanding of pollutant movement and degradation through partitioning (sorption, volatilization), dilution (dispersion), and degradation (abiotic/microbiological) of pollutants in soil and groundwater based on physical, chemical and microbiological principles.

Summer Semester

EES 4010/6010: Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation (field course), 2 Credit Hrs This upper-level field course should provide an understanding of the following topics through class lecture, site visits in the area and hands-on exercises:

  • Water quality parameters and drinking water and wastewater treatment processes; Geochemistry of groundwater/surface water; Groundwater contamination issues: petroleum hydrocarbons, chlorinated solvents, emerging contaminants; Landfills and related environmental issues; Groundwater remediation techniques of petroleum and solvents. Vapor intrusion.

Research Statement

My research focuses on the abiotic and microbial transformations of environmental pollutants mediated by metals, minerals and microbes. They include:

  • Abiotic degradation mechanisms of organic and inorganic contaminants by: (1) granular and nanoscale zero-valent metals and catalysts, including bimetallic reductants, and (2) minerals, particularly nanoscale magnetite, iron sulfide, and iron clays. Spectroscopic characterization of the reactivity of stabilized bimetallic nanoparticles towards remediation.
  • Biogeochemical transformation and remediation of organic (halogenated hydrocarbons and pharmaceuticals) and inorganic contaminants in wetlands and similar aquatic environments by aerobic (methanotrophic and ammonia-oxidizing) microorganisms. Redox processes in shallow, vegetated aquatic environments, including role of iron and sulfur cycling in wetland soils and in plant roots towards pollutant transformation.
  • Bioenergy and biofuels. Microbiological approaches to convert greenhouse gas (CO2) into hydrocarbon fuels: role of anaerobic microbes in carbon sequestration.

Students Advised

Current Student Projects:

  • Jaya Das, Ph.D. candidate (2014-present); Project: Abiotic reduction of chlorinated hydrocarbons by bioreduced nanoscale hydrous ferric oxide
  • Jonathon Deeter, M.S. Student (2018-present); Project: Degradation of select chlorinated organics by hydroxyl radicals produced from oxygenation of reduced iron oxides.

Recent Student Theses:

  • Bo Wang, Ph.D. (2019). Degradation of Halogenated Hydrocarbons by Zero-Valent Magnesium and Copper/Magnesium Bimetallic Reductant, & Characterization of Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances in Treated Wastewater Reclaimed for Direct Potable Reuse.
  • Dhurba Raj Pandey, M.S. (2018). Degradation of Select Chlorinated Hydrocarbons by (i) Sulfide-Treated Hydrous Ferric Oxide (HFO) and (ii) Hydroxyl Radicals Produced in the Dark by Oxygenation of Sodium Dithionite-Reduced HFO.
  • Adam Burdsall, Ph.D. (2018). Abiotic Reduction Transformations of Recalcitrant Chlorinated Methanes, Chlorinated Ethanes, and 2,4-Dinitroanisole By Reduced Iron Oxides at Bench-Scale.
  • Raihan Chowdhury, M.S. (2017). Removal of select chlorinated hydrocarbons by nanoscale zero-valent iron supported on powdered activated charcoal.
  • Shirin Ghahghaei, M.S. (2015). Accelerated Degradation of Chlorinated Solvents by Nanoscale Zero-Valent Iron Coated with Iron Monosulfide and Stabilized with Carboxymethyl Cellulose.
  • Andrew Franze, M.S. (2015). Degradation of chlorinated solvents by Cu-modified nanoscale zero-valent iron stabilized with carboxymethylcellulose
  • Ke Qin, Ph.D. (2014). Cometabolic degradation of chlorinated aliphatic compounds by ammonia-oxidizing bacteria naturally associated with wetland plant roots
  • Christopher Cushman, M.S. (2014). Degradations of chlorinated groundwater pollutants with zero-Valent Zn and Zero-Valent Cu/Zn bimetallic reductants.
  • Adam Burdsall, M.S. (2013). Abiotic reduction of nitrite and nitrate By chemogenic magnetite Nanoparticles - Implications for N cycling and greenhouse gas production

Recent Student Presentations

  • Wang, B. Villegas, E., Dasu, K., Agrawal, A., Mills, M. Occurrence and Composition of Per- and poly-fluoro alkylated Substances in Wastewater for Direct Potable Reuse (DPR). 7th SETAC World Congress/SETAC North America 37th Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL, 6-10 November 2016
  • Chowdhury, R., Ghose, R., and Agrawal, A. Evaluating the reactivities of nano zero-valent iron (nZVI) and Ni-modified nano zero-valent iron (Ni-nZVI) supported on clays, biochar and metal oxides towards groundwater pollutant. 251st ACS National Meeting, San Diego, CA, USA, March 13–17, 2016 (Oral).
  • Das, J., and Agrawal, A. Abiotic reduction of chlorinated hydrocarbons by bioreduced nanoscale hydrous ferric oxide. 251st ACS National Meeting, San Diego, CA, USA, March 13–17, 2016 (Oral).
  • Franze, A., and Agrawal, A. More effective treatment of chlorinated solvents by Cu-amended nanoscale zero-valent iron stabilized with carboxymethylcellulose. 251st ACS National Meeting, San Diego, CA, USA, March 13–17, 2016 (Oral).
  • Burdsall, A., and Agrawal, A. Reactivity of chemogenic ferrous hydroxide and magnetite nanoparticles towards degradation of select chlorinated hydrocarbons. 251st ACS National Meeting, San Diego, CA, USA, March 13–17, 2016 (Oral).
  • Wang, B., Villegas, E., Dasu, K., Agrawal, A., Mills, M. Occurrence and composition of perfluorinated chemicals in wastewater for direct potable reuse. 251st ACS National Meeting, San Diego, CA, USA, March 13–17, 2016 (Poster).
  • Kimmel, E., Danner, K.M., Agrawal, A. Reactivity of nano zero-valent iron (nZVI) and Ni-modified nano zero-valent iron (Ni-nZVI) stabilized with carboxymethylcellulose towards chlorinated hydrocarbons. 251st ACS National Meeting, San Diego, CA, USA, March 13–17, 2016 (Oral).
  • J. Das and A. Agrawal. 2015. Abiotic Reduction of Polychlorinated Hydrocarbons by Bioreduced Iron Oxide. Presentation at Third International Bioremediation and Sustainable Environmental Technologies Symposium, Miami, FL, May 18-21, 2015 (Poster).
  • A. Franze and A. Agrawal. 2014. Abiotic Degradation of Chlorinated Hydrocarbons by Copper-Amended Nanoscale Zero-Valent Iron Stabilized with Carboxymethylcellulose. ACS Central Regional Meeting, Pittsburg, PA, USA, Oct 29–Nov 1, 2014 (Poster).
  • K. Qin A. Agrawal, G.C. Struckhoff, and M.L. Shelley. 2013. Aerobic Degradation of Chlorinated Hydrocarbons by Ammonia and Nitrite Oxidizers Associated with Wetland Plant Roots. Presentation at Second International Bioremediation and Sustainable Environmental Technologies Symposium, Jacksonville, FL, June 10-13, 2013 (Oral).

Recent Undergraduate Research supervised:

  1. Stine, A. (2012). Laboratory Investigation of Cometabolic Degradation of Chlorinated Solvents by Methane Oxidizing Microorganisms Associated with Wetland Plant (sp. Carex comosa) Roots.
  2. Gigandet, K. (2012). Laboratory Investigation of Chlorinated Solvent Degradation in the Root Zone of Live Wetland Plant (Sp. Scripus atrovirens) in a Flow-Through Reactor.
  3. Danner, K.M. (2012). Degradation of Chlorinated Methanes by Bimetallic Nickel-Zero Valent Iron (Ni-nZVI) Nanoparticles Stabilized with Carboxymethylcellulose
  4. Kimmel, E. (2016). Reactivity of Nano Zero-Valent Iron and Ni-Modified Nano Zero-Valent Iron Stabilized with CMC towards Carbon Tetrachloride.
  5. Warren, E. (2017). A Brief Review of Distribution and Fate of Pharmaceuticals in Groundwater and Aquifers.



  1. B. Wang, A. Agrawal, M.A. Mills. (2018). Per- and Poly-fluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) in AFFF-Impacted Soil and Groundwater and their Treatment Technologies. In "Perfluoroalkyl Substances in the Environment: Theory, Practice, and Innovation"; David M. Kempisty, Yun Xing and LeeAnn Racz, Eds. Taylor and Francis (Accepted).
  2. K. Qin, A. Agrawal, B. Briggs, H. Dong, M. Shelley. 2017 (in revision). Community Analysis of Nitrifying Bacteria Involved in Natural Attenuation of Trichloroethene in Wetland Plant Roots. Chemosphere.
  3. B.D. Soni, U.D. Patel, A. Agrawal, and J. Ruparelia. 2017 (in review). Electrochemical Destruction of RB 5 on Ti/PtOx-RuO2-SnO2-Sb2O5 Electrodes. International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology.
  4. D. Fan, Y. Lan, P. Tratnyek, R. Johnson, J. Filip, D. O'Carroll, A. Nunez Garcia, A. Agrawal. 2017. Sulfidation of Iron-Based Materials: A Review of Processes and Implications for Water Treatment and Remediation. Environmental Science and Technology. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b04177
  5. B.D. Soni, U.D. Patel, A. Agrawal, and J. Ruparelia. 2017. Application of BDD and DSA Electrodes for the Removal of RB-5 Dye in Batch and Continuous Operation. International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology 17: 11–21. DOI: 10.1016/j.jwpe.2017.01.009
  6. L. Zhao, H. Dong, R.E. Edelman, Q. Zheng, A. Agrawal, 2017. Coupling of Fe(II) oxidation in illite with nitrate reduction and its role in clay mineral transformation. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 200: 353-366.
  7. D. Liu, H. Dong, A. Agrawal, R. Singh, J. Zhang, H. Wang. 2016. Inhibitory effect of clay mineral on methanogenesis by Methanosarcina mazei and Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus. Applied Clay Science 126: 25-32. DOI: 10.1016/j.clay.2016.02.030.
  8. Varshney, G., Kanel, S. R., Kempisty, D, Varshney, V., Agrawal A., Sahle-Demessie, E., Varma, R. S., Nadagouda, M.N. 2016. Nanoscale TiO2 films and their application in remediation of organic pollutants: Coordination Chemistry Reviews 306(1): 43-64. DOI: 10.1016/j.ccr.2015.06.011
  9. L. Zhao*, H. Dong, R. Kukkadapu, Q. Zheng, R. Edelman, A. Agrawal. 2015. Biological redox cycling of Iron in nontronite and its potential application in nitrate removal. Environ. Sci. Technol. 49(9): 5493–5501 DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b00131
  10. C.L. Powell, M.N. Goltz, A. Agrawal. 2014. Degradation kinetics of chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons by methane oxidizers naturally-associated with wetland plant roots.  Journal of Contaminant Hydrology 170: 68-75. DOI: 10.1016/j.jconhyd.2014.10.001.
  11. K. Qin, G.C. Struckhoff, A. Agrawal, M.L. Shelley and H. Dong. 2014. Natural attenuation potential of trichloroethene in wetland plant roots: role of native ammonium-oxidizing microorganisms.Chemosphere 119: 971-977. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.09.040
  12. J. Zhang, H. Dong, L. Zhao, R. McCarrick, and A. Agrawal. 2014. The role of Fe(III) bioreduction by methanogens in the preservation of organic matter in smectite minerals. Chemical Geology 389:16–28. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2014.09.010
  13. J. Zhang, H. Dong, L. Zhao, R. McCarrick, and A. Agrawal. 2014. Microbial reduction and precipitation of vanadium by mesophilic and thermophilic methanogens. Chemical Geology 370: 29-39.
  14. PATENT: “Upward Flow Constructed Wetland for Treatment of Water Contaminated with Chlorinated Aliphatics” by Shelley, M.L., A. Agrawal, et al. 2014.
  15. L. Zhao, H. Dong, R. Kukkadapu, A. Agrawal, D. Liu, J. Zhang, R. Edelmann. 2013. Biological oxidation of Fe(II) in microbially reduced nontronite coupled with nitrate reduction by Pseudogulbenkiania sp. Strain 2002: Implications for remediation of nitrate contamination in the environment. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 119: 231-247.
  16. J. Zhang, H. Dong, D. Liu and A. Agrawal. 2013. Microbial reduction of Fe(III) in smectite minerals by thermophilic methanogen Methanothermobacter Thermautotrophicus. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 106: 203-215.
  17. A.W. McPherson, M.N. Goltz, and A. Agrawal. 2013. Pollutant degradation by nanoscale zero-valent iron (nZVI): role of polyelectrolyte stabilization and catalytic modification on nZVI performance, In Interaction of Nanomaterials with Emerging Environmental Contaminants; Doong, R., Sharma, V.K., Kim, H.(edited); ACS Symposium Series; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC. DOI: 10.1021/bk-2013-1150.
  18. S.R. Kanel, C. Su, U. Patel and A. Agrawal. 2012. Applications of metal nanoparticles in environmental cleanup. Book Chapter In Nanoscale Multifunctional Materials, S.M. Mukhopadhyay (Ed.): Science & Applications; S.M. Mukhopadhyay (Ed.), Wiley Publishing, London.
  19. K.K. Upadhyayulu, J.R. Ruparelia and A. Agrawal. 2012. Application of carbon nanotubes in water treatment: removal of common chemical and biological contaminants by adsorption. Book Chapter In Nanoscale Multifunctional Materials, S.M. Mukhopadhyay (Ed.): Science & Applications; S.M. Mukhopadhyay (Ed.), Wiley Publishing, London.
  20. H. Vijwani, A. Agrawal and S. Mukhopadhyay. 2012. Dechlorination of environmental contaminants using a hybrid nanocatalyst: palladium nanoparticles supported on hierarchical carbon nanostructures. Journal of Nanotechnology 2012: 9 pages. doi:10.1155/2012/478381.
  21. D. Liu, H. Dong, M.E. Bishop, H. Wang, A. Agrawal, S.J. Tritschler, D. Eberl and S. Xie, 2011. Reduction of structural Fe(III) in nontronite by methanogen Methanosarcina barkeri. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 75: 1057–1071.
  22. C.L. Powell and A. Agrawal.  2011. Biodegradation of trichloroethene by methane oxidizers naturally associated with wetland plant roots. Wetlands. 31(1), 45-52
  23. C.L. Powell, G. Nogaro, and Agrawal, A.  2010. Aerobic cometabolic degradation of trichloroethene by methane and ammonia oxidizing microorganisms naturally associated with Carex comosa roots.  Biodegradation, 22(3), 527-538.
  24. J.P. Amon, A. Agrawal, M.L. Shelley, and others. 2007. Development of a wetland constructed for the treatment of groundwater contaminated by chlorinated ethenes. I: Hydrology, soil and vegetation. Ecological Engineering. 30: 51-66.
  25. A. Agrawal, W.J. Ferguson, B.O. Gardner, J.A. Christ, J.Z. Bandstra and P.G. Tratnyek. 2002. Effects of carbonate species on the dechlorination of 1,1,1- trichloroethane by zero valent iron. Environmental Science and Technology. 36(20): 4326-4333.
  26. A. Agrawal and P.G. Tratnyek. 1996. Reduction of nitro-aromatic compounds by zero-valent iron metal. Environmental Science and Technology. 30(1): 153-160.
  27. T.J. Slusser, M.L. Shelley, A. Agrawal 2002. Dechlorination potential of wetland soils for treatment of contaminated groundwater. In Phytoremediation, Wetlands, and Sediments: Bioremediation; Andrea Leeson, Eric A. Foote and M. Katherine Banks, Eds. Battelle Press, Columbus, OH: 6(5): 95-104.
  28. D.R. Ferland, K.G. Boggs, S. Niekamp, J.A. Christ, A. Agrawal, M.N. Goltz, 2000. Chlorinated hydrocarbon treatment using a horizontal flow treatment well system. In Physical and Thermal Technologies: Remediation of Chlorinated and Recalcitrant Compounds; G.B. Wickramanayake and A.R. Gavaskar, Eds. Battelle Press, Columbus, OH, 253-260.

Proceedings Papers

  1. D.L. Phillips, M.D. Welling, M.R. Stevens, K. Pallavi, M.N. Goltz, A. Agrawal, 2004. Application of Palladium (Pd) Catalysis with Formic Acid as a Reductant for In Situ Treatment of Groundwater Contaminated with Chlorinated Aliphatic Hydrocarbons (CAHs), Nitroaromatic Compounds (NACs), and Nitrate. Proceedings Third International Conference on Oxidation and Reduction Technologies for In-Situ Treatment of Soil and Groundwater (ORTs-3), San Diego CA, 25-28 October 2004.
  2. K. Pallavi, A. Agrawal, 2004. Bench-scale treatment of nitrate-contaminated groundwater with a palladium catalyst and formic acid. Proceedings Battelle 4th International Conference on Remediation of Chlorinated and Recalcitrant Compounds, Monterey CA, 24-27, May 2004.
  3. M.K. Rangaraju, A. Agrawal and K.N. Prabhakar (1993). Tectono-Stratigraphy, Structural Styles, Evolutionary Model and Hydrocarbon Habitat of Cauvery and Palar Basins, India; Proceedings of the 2nd Seminar on Petroliferous Basins of India, S.K. Biswas et al. (eds.) Indian Petroleum Publishers, Dehradun, pp. 371-396.
  4. A. Agrawal and J.J.W. Rogers, 1992. Structure and tectonic evolution of the western continental margin of India: Evidence from subsidence studies for a 25–20 Ma plate reorganization in the Indian Ocean. In Basement Tectonics 8 (pp. 583-590). Springer, Netherlands.

Professional Affiliations/Memberships

  • American Chemical Society
  • Geological Society of America
  • National Ground Water Association
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