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e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Faculty Spotlight - Dr. Nicholas Pflug 11/12/2021

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Meet Dr. Nicholas Pflug! Dr. Nicholas Pflug is a new member of the ESF community, having joined the faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry in September 2021.

After earning his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Iowa in 2017, Pflug did postdoctoral work in environmental chemistry at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, a federal institute focused on science and technology, from 2018 to 2021.

He is interested in understanding the way humans affect the natural world, with a focus on exploring the fate of organic chemicals in natural and engineered water systems. At ESF, the Pflug Lab uses a variety of research methods from environmental chemistry, natural products chemistry and organic synthesis to address the challenges of water contamination and its effects on human and ecosystem health. The research team also works to fill knowledge gaps in key biophysicochemical processes of organic compounds in water.

Pflug's team focuses on three areas: the aquatic fate of pollutants of emerging concern, such as livestock feed additives, in natural and engineered systems; photochemistry of chemical cues, such as pheromones, attractants and other chemical signals, of aquatic organisms; and aquatic photochemistry of natural toxins, such as phyto-, myco- and algal toxins. The research emphasizes kinetics, product identification, mechanistic studies, biological effects and occurrence studies.

After just a few weeks on campus, Pflug said the best aspects of ESF are" the wonderful people, the beautiful campus and the shared mission of the College: 'Improve your world!'"