We discover novel products and pathways of emerging organic contaminants in the environment to improve water quality

We use tools from analytical chemistry to understand how contaminants transform in the environment, and to use this knowledge to inform low-energy engineered natural treatment systems and nature-based solutions. We especially focus on how biological processes can help sustain treatment systems and be couples with rapid chemical sorption. We work in the lab using advanced analytical instruments (e.g., HRMS) as well as in the field.

Several research thrusts include:

  1. Complex mixture dynamics
  2. New-market pesticides
  3. Green Stormwater Infrastructure
  4. Plant uptake and metabolism

This work contributes to the practical engineering applications of bioretention, water reuse, water treatment, and biotia exposure risks. 


The LeFevre Lab is an environmental engineering and science research group at the University of Iowa. We are part of IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering institute and the Water & Environment graduate program in Civil & Environmental Engineering

research thrusts

Lab News and Updates

Stay up to date with our happenings.


Publications are listed lower down, but the most up to date information is on Google Scholar


Environmental Research

In the Lab and Field



The LeFevre Lab is a dynamic team of scholars from a diverse background all working to understand systems and improve environmental quality. 




Principal Investigator: Greg LeFevre

Greg LeFevre is an associate professor of environmental engineering and science in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering at the University of Iowa where he started in 2016. He did his BS at Michigan Tech, MS and PhD at University of Minnesota, and Postdoc at Stanford University all in environmental engineering. Greg has received multiple sources of recognition for his work, including the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the University of Iowa Early Career Scholar of the Year award, the American Chemical Society Editor’s Choice award and ACS Best Paper award, ES&T James Morgan award (honorary mention), the Royal Society of Chemistry Environmental Sciences ‘Best Paper’, National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering fellow, the AEESP Best Dissertation both as a PhD student and as a faculty advisor, amongst others. He serves a number of professional organizations, including AEESP and is on the ES&T Early Career Board.


Current Students

Alyssa Mianecki (PhD Candidate; BS University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point)

Qin Dong (PhD Candidate; MS University of Southern California)

Debojit Tanmoy (PhD Student; MS Texas A&M)

Sraboni Chowdhury (PhD Student; MS University of Delaware)

Stan Kohls (PhD Student; BS Marquette University)

Grant Hemphill (MS Student; BS University of Iowa)



Erica Wiener, PhD 2022 (Presidential Management Postdoctoral Fellowship US Dept of Transportation)

Monica McFadden, PhD 2021 ([co-advised with David Cwiertny] Senior Analytical Chemist, P&G)

Claire Muerdter, PhD 2021 (ORISE Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Wisconsin)

Danielle Webb, PhD 2020 ( Senior Analytical Chemist 3M)

Hui Zhi, PhD 2020 (Postdoctoral fellow, Peking University)

Sarah Douglas Greene, MS 2020 ([co-advised with Corey Markfort], Geosyntec Consultants)

Kathryn Klarich, MS 2019 ([co-advised with David Cwiertny], Computational chemistry industry

NOTES: *GHL Corresponding author, †GHL graduate advisee, §undergraduate advisee


36) Teixidó, M.; Charbonnet, J. A.; LeFevre, G. H.; Luthy, R. G.; Sedlak, D. L. Use of Pilot-Scale Geomedia-Amended Biofiltration System for Removal of Polar Trace Organic and Inorganic Contaminants from Stormwater Runoff. Water Res. 2022, 226, 119246. DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2022.119246.

35) Meade, E. B.; Iwanowicz, L. R.; Neureuther, N.; LeFevre, G. H.; Kolpin, D. W.; Zhi, H.; Meppelink, S. M.; Lane, R. F.; Schmoldt, A.; Mohaimani, A.; Mueller, O.; Klaper, R. D. Transcriptome Signatures of Wastewater Effluent Exposure in Larval Zebrafish Vary with Seasonal Mixture Composition in an Effluent-Dominated Stream. Sci. Total Environ. 2022, 159069. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.159069.

34) Schumann, P.G.; Meade, E.B.; Zhi, H.; LeFevre, G.H.; Kolpin, D.W.; Meppelink, S.M.; Iwanowicz, L.R.; Lane, R. F.; Schmoldt, A.; Mueller, O.; Klaper, R.D. RNA-Seq Reveals Potential Gene Biomarkers in Fathead Minnows (Pimephales Promelas) for Exposure to Treated Wastewater Effluent. Environ. Sci. Process. Impacts 2022. DOI: 10.1039/D2EM00222A.

33) †Muerdter, C.P; §Powers, M.M; †Chowdhury, S.; †Mianecki, A.L.; *LeFevre, G.H. Rapid Plant Uptake of Isothiazolinone Biocides and Formation of Metabolites by Hydroponic Arabidopsis. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts. 2022. In Press. DOI: 10.1039/D2EM00178K.

32) O’Brien, A.M.; Yu, Z.H.; Pencer, C; Frederickson, M.E.; LeFevre, G.H.; Passeport, E. Harnessing plant-microbiome interactions for bioremediation across a freshwater urbanization gradient. Water Research. 2022, 223, 118926. DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2022.118926.

31) Wiener, E.A.; *LeFevre, G.H. White Rot Fungi Produce Novel Tire Wear Compound Metabolites and Reveal Underappreciated Amino Acid Conjugation Pathways. Environmental Science & Technology Letters. 2022, 9, 391-399 (Cover Article). DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.2c00114.

30) Portmann, A.C., LeFevre, G.H., Hankawa, R., Werner, D., Higgins, C.P. The regenerative role of biofilm in the removal of pesticides from stormwater in biochar-amended biofilters. Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology. 2022, 9, 391-399. DOI: 10.1039/D1EW00870F.

29) Tanmoy, D.S., Bezares-Cruz, JC, *LeFevre, G.H. The use of recycled materials in a biofilter to polish anammox wastewater treatment plant effluent. Chemosphere 2022, 296, 134058. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2022.134058

28)Wiener, E.A.; *LeFevre, G.H. Using the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Proposal to Train Original Scientific Writing Skills in First-Year Graduate Students: A Demonstrated Project at the University of Iowa. Environ. Eng. Sci. 2022, 39 (3), 197-201. DOI: 10.1089/ees.2021.0225.

27)Webb, D.T.; Nagorzanski, M.R.; Cwiertny, D.M.; *LeFevre, G.H. Combining Experimental Sorption Parameters with QSAR to Predict Neonicotinoid and Transformation Product Sorption to Carbon Nanotubes and Granular Activated Carbon. ACS ES&T Water 2022, 2 (1), 247–258. DOI: 10.1021/acsestwater.1c00492.

26) McFadden, M.E.; Patterson, E.V; Reber, K.P.; Gilbert, I.W.; Sivey, J.D.; LeFevre, G.H.; Cwiertny, D.M. Acid- and Base-Mediated Hydrolysis of Dichloroacetamide Herbicide Safeners. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2021, 56 (1), 325–334. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.1c05958.

25) Zhi, H., Mianecki, A.L., Kolpin, D.W., Klaper, R.D., Iwanowicz, L.R., *LeFevre, G.H. Tandem field and laboratory approaches to quantify attenuation mechanisms of pharmaceutical and pharmaceutical transformation products in a wastewater effluent-dominated stream. Water Research. 2021, 203, 117537. DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2021.117537.

24) Hama, J.R., Kolpin, D.W., LeFevre, G.H., Hubbard, L.E., §Powers, M.M. Strobel, B.W. Exposure and Transport of Alkaloids and Phytoestrogens from Soybeans to Agricultural Soils and Streams in the Midwestern US. Environmental Science & Technology. 2021, 55 (16), 11029–11039. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.1c01477

23) Webb, D.T., Zhi, H., Kolpin, D.W., Klaper, R.D., Iwanowicz, L.R., *LeFevre, G.H. Municipal Wastewater as a Year-Round Point-Source of Neonicotinoid Insecticides in an Effluent-Dominated Stream. Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts. 2021 23, 678-688. DOI: 10.1039/D1EM00065A HOT article’ designation for exceptionally high review.

22) Douglas-Greene, S.B., *LeFevre, G.H., Markfort, C.D. Improving the spatial and temporal monitoring of cyanotoxins in Iowa lakes using a multiscale and mutli-modal monitoring approach. 2021, 760, 143327. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.143327. Science of the Total Environment. *GHL co-corresponding author

21) Webb, D.T., Nagorzanski, M.R., §Powers, M.M., Hladik, M.L., Cwiertny, D.M., *LeFevre, G.H. Differences in Neonicotinoid and Metabolite Sorption to Activated Carbon are Driven by Alterations to the Insecticidal Pharmacophore. Environmental Science & Technology 2020, 54 (22), 14694–14705. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c04187

20) Zhi, H., Kolpin, D.W., Klaper, R.D., Iwanowicz, L.R., Meppelink, S.M., *LeFevre, G.H. Occurrence and Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Pharmaceuticals in a Temperate-region Wastewater Effluent-dominated Stream: Variable Inputs and Differential Attenuation Yield Evolving Complex Exposure Mixtures. Environmental Science & Technology. 2020 54 (20), 12967–12978. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c02328.  COVER ARTICLE (10/20)

19) Thompson, D.A., Lehmler, H.J., Kolpin, D.W., Hladik, M.L., Vargo, J.D., Schilling K.E., LeFevre, G.H., Peeples, T.L., Pocha, M.C., LaDucaa, L.E., Cwiertny, D.M., Field, R.W. A critical review on the potential impacts of neonicotinoid insecticide use: current knowledge of environmental fate, toxicity and implications for human health. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts. 2020 22 (6), 1315–1346, DOI: 10.1039/C9EM00586B.

18) Qian, J., Martinez, A., Marek, R.F., Nagorzanski, M.R., Zhi, H., Furlong, E.T., Kolpin, D.W., LeFevre, G.H., Cwiertny, D.M. Polymeric nanofiber-carbon nanotube composite mats as fast-equilibrium passive samplers for polar organic pollutants. Environmental Science & Technology. 2020, 54 (11), 6703–6712. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c00609.

17) †Muerdter, C. P., *LeFevre, G.H. Synergistic Lemna Duckweed and Microbial Transformation of Imidacloprid and Thiacloprid Neonicotinoids. Environmental Science & Technology Letters. 2019 6 (12), 761–767. DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.9b00638.

16) Kral, A. E., Pflug, N. C., †McFadden, M. E., LeFevre, G. H., Sivey, J. D., Cwiertny, D. M. Photochemical Transformations of Dichloroacetamide Safeners. Environmental Science & Technology. 2019, 53 (12), 6738–6746. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b00861.

15) Halaburka, B.J., *LeFevre, G.H., Luthy, R.G. Quantifying the Temperature Dependence of Nitrate Reduction in Woodchip Bioreactors: Experimental and Modeled Results with Applied Case-Study. Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology. 5, 782-797. 2019. DOI: 10.1039/C8EW00848E. *GHL co-corresponding author

14) Ashoori, N., Teixido-Planes, M., Spahr, S., LeFevre, G.H., Sedlak, D., Luthy, R. Evaluation of Pilot-Scale Biochar-Amended Woodchip Bioreactors to Remove Nitrate, Metals, and Trace Organic Contaminants from Urban Stormwater Runoff. Water Research. 154, 1-11. 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2019.01.040.

13) Klarich-Wong, K.L., Webb, D.T., Hladik, M.L., Kolpin, D.W., Cwiertny, D.M., *LeFevre, G.H. Chlorinated Byproducts of Neonicotinoids and their Metabolites: An Unrecognized Exposure Potential? Environmental Science & Technology Letters. 6, 98-105. 2019. DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.8b00706.

12) Muerdter, C.P., Wong, C.K., *LeFevre, G.H. The role of vegetation in bioretention for stormwater treatment in the built environment: Pollutant removal, hydrologic function, and ancillary benefits. Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology. 2018, 4, 592-612. DOI: 10.1039/C7EW00511C.

11) Halaburka, B.J., LeFevre, G.H., Luthy, R.G. Evaluation of mechanistic models for nitrate removal in woodchip bioreactors. Environmental Science & Technology. 2017, 51 (9) 5156-5164. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b01025.

10) Klarich, K.L., Pflug, N.C., §DeWald, E.M., Hladik, M.L., Kolpin, D.W., Cwiertny, D.M., *LeFevre, G.H. Occurrence of neonicotinoid insecticides in finished drinking water and fate during drinking water treatment. Environmental Science & Technology Letters. 2017, 51 (9) 5156-5164. DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.7b00081. **ACS EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD** (cover article) ***2017 “BEST PAPER ES&TL”***

9) LeFevre, G.H., Lipsky, A., Hyland, K.C., Blaine, A.C., Higgins, C. P., Luthy, R.G. Benzotriazole and BT-plant metabolites in crops irrigated with recycled water. Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology. 2017, 3, 213-223. DOI: 10.1039/C6EW00270F. ‘HOT article’ designation for exceptionally high review (cover article)

8) Wolfand, J.M. LeFevre, G.H., Luthy, R.G. Metabolization and Degradation Kinetics of the Urban-use Pesticide Fipronil by White Rot Fungus Trametes versicolor. Environmental. Sciences: Processes and Impacts 2016, 18, 1256-1265. DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00344C. (cover article)

7) LeFevre, G.H., Portmann, A.C., Mueller, C.E., Sattely, E.S., Luthy, R.G. Plant assimilation kinetics and metabolism of 2-mercaptobenzothiazole tire rubber vulcanizers by Arabidopsis. Environmental Science & Technology. 2016, 50 (13) 6762-6771. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b04716.

6) Müller, C.E., LeFevre, G.H., Sattely, E.S., Luthy, R.G. Competing mechanisms for perfluoroalkyl-acid accumulation in plants revealed using an Arabidopsis model system. Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry. 2016, 35 (5), 1138-1147. DOI: 10.1002/etc.3251.

5) LeFevre, G.H., Mueller, C.M., Li, J., Luthy, R.G., Sattely, E.S. Rapid phytotransformation of benzotriazole generates synthetic tryptophan and auxin analogs in Arabidopsis. Environmental Science & Technology. 2015, 49 (18), pp 10959–10968. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b02749.

4) LeFevre, G.H.; Paus, K.A.; Natarajan, P; Gulliver, J.S.; Novak, P.J.; Hozalski, R.M. Review of dissolved pollutants in urban storm water and their removal and fate in bioretention cells. Journal of Environmental Engineering. 2015, 141(1), 04014050. DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)EE.1943-7870.0000876.

3) LeFevre, G.H.; Hozalski, R.M.; Novak, P.J. Root exudate enhanced contaminant desorption: Evidence for an abiotic contribution to the rhizosphere effect. Environmental Science & Technology. 2013, 47 (20), 11545–11553. DOI: 10.1021/es402446v.

2) LeFevre, G.H.; Novak, P.J.; Hozalski, R.M. Fate of naphthalene in laboratory-scale bioretention cells: Implications for sustainable stormwater management. Environmental Science & Technology. 2012, 46 (2), 995-1002. DOI: 10.1021/es202266z.

1) LeFevre, G.H.; Hozalski, R.M.; Novak, P.J. The role of biodegradation in limiting the accumulation of petroleum hydrocarbons in raingarden soils. Water Research. 2012, 46 (20), 6753-6762. 10.1016/j.watres.2011.12.040.

  • Committee re-writing the UIowa CEE Mission Statement to assert critical values of diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Environmental Science and Technology Early Career Editorial Advisory Board, Invited Member (2021-2023)
  • Symposium session organizer ACS spring 2018, spring 2019 Meeting
  • Researcher, UIowa Public Health Neonicotinoid Collaboratory: https://www.public-health.uiowa.edu/stakeholders-of-the-neonicitinoid-collaboratory/
  • AEESP conference site selection committee
  • Supervisor for high school student researchers, Secondary Student Education Program
  • Next Generation Science Standards "Engineering" activity bundle development for middle school science teachers
  • AEESP SSC Academic Job Application Review 2018
  • UIowa Sustainable Water Development Program Faculty member
  • UIowa STEM Education teacher-research training experience
  • Iowa Stormwater Manual technical committee
  • Iowa Stormwater Education Partnership professional practice training committee
  • Iowa Corridor Post-Construction Stormwater Symposium, technical planning committee, UIowa
  • Panel and ad hoc reviewer for dozens of journals and agencies

Apply to the Program

Learn here how to apply to the Water & Environment graduate program.