The Department of Chemistry


Diana S. Aga

Diana AgaProfessor and Director of Graduate Studies
Office: 611 Natural Sciences Complex
Phone: (716) 645-4220
Fax: (716) 645-6963
Lab website:
Information on the Aga Research Group



  • B.S., University of the Philippines at Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines (1988)
  • Ph.D., University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS (1995)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Swiss Federal Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ETH/EAWAG), Zurich, Switzerland (1996-1998)

Other Professional Experience:

  • Research Assistant, U.S. Geological Survey, Lawrence, KS (1995)
  • Research Fellow, Technical University of Munich, Freising, Germany, Funded by The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Scientific and Environmental Affairs (Summer, 1996)
  • Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska at Kearney (1998-2001)
  • Research Chemist, Bayer Corporation, Agriculture Division, Stilwell, KS (2001-2002)

Recent Awards:

  • New York Water Environment Association Kenneth Allen Memorial Award (2007)
  • American Chemical Society PROGRESS/Dreyfus Lectureship Award (2007)
  • Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship, Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung, Berlin, Germany (2007)
  • Fulbright Research and Teaching Scholar, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines (2011)


Fate and transport of pollutants, environmental sampling and analysis, wastewater treatment of micropollutants, capillary zone electrophoresis (CZE), liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), molecularly imprinted sorbents in solid-phase extraction (SPE), inductively coupled plasma/mass spectrometry (ICP/MS).

Research Summary:

Our research involves the development and applications of conventional and innovative analytical techniques to study the environmental fate and transport of emerging contaminants. Some of the questions we intend to answer are: (1) how fast and by what means do these chemicals degrade?, (2) what are the major breakdown products of these compounds in the environment?, (3) how do environmental conditions affect the persistence and mobility of these contaminants? and (4) are these compounds of significant ecotoxicological concern?

Analytical Chemistry will play a key role in our investigations to answer several fundamental questions in environmental chemistry. We will use modern instruments such as LC/MS/MS, CZE, ICP/MS and GC/MS/MS, in combination with bioassays as tools to study many important environmental processes. Development of effective sample preparation techniques such as solid-phase extraction (SPE), accelerated solvent extraction (ASE), solid-phase microextraction (SPME), and molecularly imprinted polymers (MIP) will be important in obtaining reliable results.

Environmental Fate and Biodegradation of Veterinary Antibiotics and Estrogens

Residues of antibiotics and natural estrogens excreted by animals enter the environment via cropland application of manure that is used as fertilizer. Constant exposure to low levels of antibiotics can lead to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms in the environment, while presence of estrogens in surface runoff can cause endocrine disruption in fish in the receiving streams. Due to the potential ecological and human health risks associated with these manure-borne chemicals we are investigating the factors affecting their mobility and persistence in soil. Our research also aims to determine the importance of plant uptake and phytotransformations of antibiotics by agricultural crops.

Treatment of Pharmaceutical Contaminants in Wastewater

Residues of human pharmaceuticals enter the environment from discharges of wastewater treatment plants (WWTP).  Our studies focus on the identification of pharmaceutical metabolites resulting from their biodegradation in activated sludge systems. We are also investigating the influence of the design and operations of WWTPs on the efficiency of pharmaceutical removal in biological wastewater treatment systems. In many cases, we find that the absence of the parent pharmaceutical from the WWTP effluent does not necessarily mean that the compound has been completely eliminated, but instead has only been partially transformed. Whether these metabolites still contain the antibacterial activity of the parent compound or not remains a question.

Bioaccumulation of halogenated compounds in Fish from the Great Lakes

The presence of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), in the sediments of the Great Lakes has been widely documented. PBDEs and PCBs are considered as endocrine-disrupting compounds posing long-term ecological risks. We are studying the bioaccumulation and biomagnifications of these POPs in the trophic food web in Lake Erie to assess the extent of sediment contamination in this lake.

Interactions of engineered nanomaterials with natural organic matter

Given the pressing need for new energy conversion technologies, an increase in industrial production is anticipated for nanomaterials with demonstrated and potential applications in energy conversion. With the increasing use and impending commercialization of nanomaterials, their release into the environment is inevitable. However, knowledge on their environmental fate, transport and ecotoxicity is very limited. Therefore, we are characterizing the influence of surface chemistry on the transport behavior and degradation of quantum dots and metal oxide nanoparticles in soil columns, in the presence of natural organic matter. We are also investigating the uptake, bioaccumulation, and toxicity of these nanoparticles as a function of size and surface capping using a model organisms and plant species.

Selected Recent Publications: (Senior/Corresponding author denoted by *)

  • Navarro, D.; Banerjee, S.; Watson, D.; *Aga, D.S. Differences in Soil Mobility and Degradability Between Water-Dispersible CdSe and CdSe/ZnS Quantum Dots. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2011, 45, 6343-6349.
  • Celiz, M.D.; *Colon, L.A.; Watson, D.F.; *Aga, D.S. Study on the Effects of Humic and Fulvic Acids on Quantum Dot Nanoparticles Using Capillary Electrophoresis with Laser-Induced Fluorescence Detection. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2011, 45, (7), 2917-2924.
  • Navarro, D.; Watson, D.; *Aga, D.S.; *Banerjee, S.; Interactions of Colloidal Transition Metal Oxide Nanocrystals with Natural Organic Matter. J. Haz. Mat. 2011, 196, 302-310.
  • Stewart, D.T.R.; Celiz, M.D.; Vicente, G.; Colón, L.A.; *Aga, D.S. Potential Use of Capillary Zone Electrophoresis in Size Characterization of Quantum Dots For Environmental Studies.  Trends in Analytical Chemistry, 2011, 30, 113-122.
  • Akaighe, N.; MacCuspie, R.I.; Navarro, D.A.; Aga, D.S.; Banerjee, S.; Sohn, M.; *Sharma, V.K. Humic Acid-Induced Silver Nanoparticle Formation Under Environmentally Relevant Conditions. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2011, 45, 3895-3901.
  • Tso, J.; *Aga, D.S. Wrong-Way-Round Ionization of Sulfonamides and Tetracyclines Enables Simultaneous Analysis with Free and Conjugated Estrogens by Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry. Analytical Chemistry, 2011, 83, 269-277.
  • Tso, J.; Dutta, S.; Inamdar, S.; *Aga, D.S. Simultaneous Analysis of Free and Conjugated Estrogens, Sulfonamides, and Tetracyclines in Runoff Water and Soils Using Solid-Phase Extraction and Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2011, 59, 2213-2222.
  • Mojica, E.E.; Autschbach, J.; *Bright, F.V.; *Aga, D.S. Tetracycline Speciation During Molecular Imprinting in Xerogels Results in Class-Selective Binding. Analyst, 2011, 136, 749-755.
  • Mojica, E.E.; Autschbach, J.; *Bright, F.V.; *Aga, D.S. Synthesis and Evaluation of Tetracycline Imprinted Xerogels: Comparison of Experiment and Computational Modeling. Analytica Chimica Acta, 2011, 684, 72-80.
  • Khunjar, W.O.; Mackintosh, S.A.; Skotnicka-Pitak, J.; Baik, S.; Aga, D.S.; *Love, N.G. Elucidating the Relative Roles of Ammonia Oxidizing and Heterotrophic Bacteria during the Biotransformation of 17 alpha-Ethinylestradiol and Trimethoprim. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2011, 45, 3605-3612.
  • Clabeaux, B.; Navarro, D.A.; Aga, D.S.; *Bisson, M.A. Effects of Cd on Chara australis (R. Br.) Growth and Tolerance: Potential Use for Charophytes in Phytoremediation. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2011, 45, 5332-5338.
  • Yi, T.; Mackintosh, S.; Aga, D.S.; *Harper, W.F. Exploring 17 alpha-Ethinylestradiol Removal, Mineralization, and Bioincorporation in Engineered Bioreactors. Water Research, 2011, 45, 1369-1377.
  • Bowman, S.M.; Drzewiecki, K.E.; Mojica, E.E.; Zielinski, A.M.; Siegel, A.; Aga, D.S.; *Berry, J.O. Toxicity and Reductions in Intracellular Calcium Levels Following Uptake of a Tetracycline Antibiotic in Arabidopsis, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2011, 45, 8958-8964.

Book Edited:

For more of Diana S. Aga's Publications, please click here.





The Department of Chemistry