Heileen Hsu-Kim

Image of Heileen Hsu-Kim

Mary Milus Yoh and Harold L. Yoh, Jr. Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Professor Heileen (Helen) Hsu-Kim is an environmental engineer who specialized in aquatic chemistry and geochemistry. Her research tackles problems related to environmental pollutants and the biogeochemical processes that alter their distribution in water, soil, and air. Her work was applied to a diverse array of topics, including environmental remediation, the impacts of energy production on water resources, global environmental health, and the environmental implications and applications of nanotechnology.

Dr. Hsu-Kim's current research projects are focused on mercury biogeochemistry, the environmental implications of nanomaterials, and the impacts of coal ash disposal and coal mining on water quality. A central theme to her work is the utilization of chemical speciation for understanding and predicting the persistence, mobility and bioavailability of metals and minerals in the aquatic environment.

The methodologies her group employs for this research include laboratory techniques for quantifying trace metal speciation, water-surface interactions, and in-situ applications of solid-state microelectrodes to determine important aquatic constituents in water and sediment.

Appointments and Affiliations
  • Mary Milus Yoh and Harold L. Yoh, Jr. Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences and Policy
Contact Information:

  • Ph.D. University of California at Berkeley, 2004
  • M.S. University of California at Berkeley, 1999
  • B.S. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1998

Research Interests:

Aquatic chemistry and geochemistry, trace element environmental chemistry, nanogeoscience, mercury biogeochemistry, water-particle surface processes.


Water, Resources and Treatment
Environmental Engineering
Environmental Impacts

Courses Taught:
  • CEE 461L: Chemical Principles in Environmental Engineering
  • CEE 490: Special Topics in Civil Engineering
  • CEE 491: Projects in Civil Engineering
  • CEE 492: Projects in Civil Engineering
  • CEE 561L: Environmental Aquatic Chemistry
  • CEE 666: Aquatic Geochemistry
  • CEE 890: Special Readings in Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • ENVIRON 393: Research Independent Study
  • ENVIRON 542L: Environmental Aquatic Chemistry
  • ENVIRON 666: Aquatic Geochemistry
  • ENVIRON 899: Master's Project

Representative Publications: (More Publications)
    • Hsu-Kim, H.; Kucharzyk, K.H.; Zhang, T.; Deshusses, M.A., Mechanisms Regulating Mercury Bioavailability for Methylating Microorganisms in the Aquatic Environment: A Critical Review, Environmental Science & Technology, vol 47 no. 6 (2013), pp. 2441-2456 [doi].
    • Zhang, T.; Kim, B.; Levard, C.; Reinsch, B. C.; Lowry, G. V.; Deshusses, M. A.; Hsu-Kim, H., Methylation of mercury by bacteria exposed to dissolved, nanoparticulate, and microparticulate mercuric sulfides, Environmental Science & Technology, vol 46 no. 13 (2012), pp. 6950–6958 [es203181m], [doi].
    • Gondikas, A. P.; Morris, A.; Reinsch, B. C.; Marinakos, S. M.; Lowry, G. V.; Hsu-Kim, H., Cysteine-induced modifications of zero-valent silver nanomaterials: Implications for particle surface chemistry, aggregation, dissolution, and silver speciation, Environmental Science \& Technology, vol 46 no. 13 (2012), pp. 7037–7045 [es3001757], [doi].
    • Deonarine, A.; Bartov, G.; Johnson, T.M.; Ruhl, L.; Vengosh, A.; Hsu-Kim, H., Environmental impacts of the Tennessee Valley Authority Kingston coal ash spill. 2. Effect of coal ash on methylmercury in historically contaminated river sediments, Environmental Science & Technology, vol 47 no. 4 (2013), pp. 2100-2108 [doi].
    • Aiken, G. R.; Hsu-Kim, H.; Ryan, J. N., Influence of dissolved organic matter on the environmental fate of metals, nanoparticles, and colloids, Environmental Science \& Technology, vol 45 (2011), pp. 3196-3201 [es103992s], [doi].
    • Zhang, T. and Hsu-Kim, H., Photolytic degradation of methylmercury enhanced by binding to natural organic ligands, Nature Geoscience, vol 3 no. 7 (2010), pp. 473-476 [NGEO892], [doi].
    • Ruhl, L.; Vengosh, A.; Dwyer, G. S.; Hsu-Kim, H.; Deonarine, A., Environmental impacts of the coal ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee: An 18-month survey, Environmental Science \& Technology, vol 44 no. 24 (2010), pp. 9272-9278 [es1026739], [doi].