Paige J. Novak

Paige J. Novak

Paige J. Novak

Professor & Joseph T. and Rose S. Ling Chair in Environmental Engineering, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering


Civil Engineering Building
Room 148
500 Pillsbury Drive Se
Minneapolis, MN 55455
  • B.S., 1992, University of Virginia, Chemical Engineering
  • M.S., 1994, University of Iowa, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Ph.D., 1997, University of Iowa, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Research Interests

Novak Research Group | Experts@Minnesota | Google Scholar

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)
Selected Publications

Zhu, K., Davis, C. W., Novak, P. J., Arnold, W. A. 2020. Effects of encapsulation on the chemical inhibition of anaerobic hydrogen-and methane-producing microbial cells. Bioresource Technology Reports, Accepted.

Temme, H. R., Novak, P. J. 2020. Diverse dechlorinators and dechlorination genes enriched through amendment of chlorinated natural organic matter fractions. Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts, 22(3), 595-605. doi: 10.1039/c9em00499h

Zhu, K., Arnold, W. A., Novak, P. J. 2019. Modeling alginate encapsulation system for biological hydrogen production. Biotechnology and Bioengineering 116 (12), 3189-3199. doi: 10.1002/bit.27152

Fitzgerald, N. J. M., Temme, H. R., Simcik, M. F., Novak, P. J. 2019. Aqueous film forming foam and associated perfluoroalkyl substances inhibit methane production and Co-contaminant degradation in an anaerobic microbial community. Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts, 21(11), 1915-1925. doi: 10.1039/c9em00241c

Temme, H. R., Carlson, A., Novak, P. J. 2018. Presence, diversity, and enrichment of respiratory reductive dehalogenase and non-respiratory hydrolytic and oxidative dehalogenase genes in terrestrial environments. Frontiers of Microbiology, 07 June 2019,

Zhu, K., Arnold, W. A., Sakkos, J., Davis, C., Novak, P. J.2018. Achieving high-rate hydrogen recovery from wastewater using customizable alginate polymer gel matrices encapsulating biomass. Environmental Science: Water Research and Technology, 4(11):1867-1876.

Fitzgerald, N. J. M., Wargenau, A., Sorenson, C., Pedersen, J., Tufenkji, N., Novak, P. J., Simcik, M. F. 2018. Partitioning and Accumulation of Perfluoroalkyl Substances in Model Lipid Bilayers and Bacteria. Environmental Science and Technology, 52(18):10433-10440.

Fitzgerald, N. J. M., Simcik, M. F., Novak, P. J. 2018. Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) increase membrane permeability and quorum sensing response in Aliivibrio fischeriEnvironmental Science and Technology Letters, 5(1):26–31.

Peterson, K. N., Tan, D. T., Bezares-Cruz, J. C., Novak, P. J. 2017. Estrone biodegradation in laboratory-scale systems designed for total nitrogen removal from wastewater. Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, 3:1051-1060.DOI: 10.1039/C7EW00164A.

Temme, H. R., Sande, K., Yan, T., Novak, P. J. 2017. Rapid Enrichment of Dehalococcoides-like Bacteriaby Partial Hydrophobic Separation. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, doi:10.1128/AEM.02946-16.