I specialize in research on the biological transformation of hazardous substances or pollutants. I am particularly interested in how external environmental factors influence the biodegradation of these substances or how to enhance biodegradation. This is of critical importance in designing and implementing biologically based remediation systems, using microorganisms to treat drinking water, or optimizing wastewater treatment. I work both in the laboratory and in the field, trying to understand the interactions between microorganisms and environmental conditions (such as electron donor concentration and redox conditions). Field work that I have been involved with has focused on implementing remediation technologies that alter environmental conditions and thereby stimulate beneficial biological activity.
Recently the work in my lab has been focused in three areas. First, we have been studying the dechlorination of pollutants, understanding the bacteria that dechlorinate compounds in uncontaminated environments so that we can use that information to stimulate pollutant dechlorination. Second, we have been studying different methods for stimulating total nitrogen removal, including collaborative work with the Chemistry Department focused on enhancing anaerobic ammonia oxidation using novel membrane materials. Finally, researchers in my group are working on the development of novel wastewater treatment systems using encapsulated bacteria. This research spans modeling, laboratory-scale research, and pilot studies and is focused on enhancing and predicting treatment of both high strength industrial waste streams and nitrogenous compounds.
Honors and Awards
Fellow of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (2019)
Fellow of the Water Environment Federation (2016)
Bill Boyle Educator of the Year Award, Central States Water Environment Association (2013)
Samuel Arnold Greeley Award, American Society of Civil Engineers (2011)
Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University (2009)
Paul Busch Award, Water Environment Research Federation (2007)
Bhattarai, S., Temme, H., Jain, A., Badalamenti, J., Gralnick, J., Novak, P. J. The Potential for Bacteria from Carbon-Limited Deep Terrestrial Environments to Participate in Chlorine Cycling. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, in press.
Huff Chester, A. L., Gordon, C., Hartmann, H., Bartell, S., Ansah, E., Yan, T., Li, B., Dampha, N., Edmiston, P., Novak, P. J., Schoenfuss, H. 2022. Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Lower Volta River, Ghana, West Africa: The Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Urban Development Nexus. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 41:369-381.
Chen, S., Arnold, W. A., Wright, N., Zhu, K., Ajayi, O., Novak, P. J. 2022. Encapsulation Technology for Decentralized Brewery Wastewater Treatment: A Small Pilot Experiment. Bioresource Technology, Mar;347:126435.
Wang, Z., Perez-Calleja, P., Nerenberg, R., Novak, P. J., Ishii, S. 2022. Unraveling Encapsulated Growth of Nitrosomonas europaea in Alginate: An Experimental and Modeling Study. Water Research, 208(1):117857.
Wang, Z., Ishii, S., Novak, P. J. 2021. Encapsulating Microorganisms to Enhance Nitrogen Removal in Wastewater: Recent Advancements and Future Opportunities. Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, 7:1402-1416.
Huff Chester, A. L., Eum, K., Tsapatsis, M., Hillmyer, M. A., Novak, P. J. 2021. Enhanced Nitrogen Removal and Anammox Bacteria Retention with Zeolite-Coated Membrane in Simulated Mainstream Wastewater. Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 8(6):468-473.
Feinberg, E. C, Huff Chester, A. L., Novak, P. J., Hillmyer, M. A. 2021. Porous Polyethylene-Supported Zeolite Carriers for Improved Wastewater Deammonification. ACS ES&T Engineering, 1(7):1104-1112.
Temme, H. R., Novak, P. J. 2020. Diverse Dechlorinators and Dechlorination Processes Simulated through Amendment of Chlorinated Natural Organic Matter Fractions. Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts, 22:595-605.
Zhu, K., Arnold, W. A., Novak, P. J. 2019. Modeling alginate encapsulation system for biological hydrogen production. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 116:3189–3199.
Temme, H. R., Carlson, A., Novak, P. J. 2019. Presence, Diversity, and Enrichment of Reductive Dehalogenase and Dehalogenase Genes in a Variety of Environments. Frontiers of Microbiology, 07 June 2019, https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2019.01258.