IMPES Laboratory











Research Overview



The Integrated Multiphase Environmental Systems (IMPES) laboratory comprises computational and wet-lab facilities which house research programs led by Professors Andrew Ramsburg, Linda Abriola, and Kurt Pennell at Tufts University. Here, laboratory experiments and mathematical models are combined in highly collaborative explorations of processes which influence the persistence of contaminants and control the effectiveness of treatment.   

Prof. Ramsburg’s research combines fundamental and applied projects which focus on understanding and engineering chemical, biological, and physical processes occurring on multiple scales within porous media. His experimental investigations are designed to quantify solid-liquid and liquid-liquid equilibria, interphase mass transfer kinetics, biotic and abiotic reaction rates and extents, and particle-particle (and droplet-droplet) interactions for accurate description of multiphase flow and transport within porous media.

Prof. Abriola’s primary research area is in the mathematical modeling of the transport and fate of organic chemical contaminants in porous media. She developed the first mathematical model to appear in the hydrology literature that describes the interphase mass partitioning and migration of organic liquid contaminants in the subsurface. This work and her subsequent multiphase flow modeling investigations have been widely referenced in the literature. Current research is investigating abiotic and biotic transformations and their interaction with physical transport mechanisms.   

Prof. Pennell's research interests focus on the fate and transport of environmental contaminants, including pathogens, nanomaterials, volatile organic contaminants, and non-aqueous phase liquids in porous media.  In addition, he is investigating the effects of chronic exposure to persistent environmental pollutants on human health, specifically oxidative stress and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease.  Parkinson's disease is particularly interesting from an environmental perspective because less than 10% of cases are attributed to genetic factors, and because as life expectancies increase, neurodegenerative diseases will become more prevalent.  

Representative application areas for IMPES laboratory research include: development of innovative remediation technologies, , quantification of the benefits of partial mass removal in heterogeneous source-zone environments, reduction in the uncertainty of mass discharge estimates,  investigation of organic vapor transport mechanisms, contaminant fate in water reuse scenarios, subsurface fate and transport of nanoparticles, quantification of organic liquid residual dissolution, exploration of the influence of soil wettability on organic liquid transport properties, and evaluation of the in situ biotransformation of organic contaminants in low substrate environments.  For more information on current projects please visit our research projects and support pages. 


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