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 specializes in aquatic chemistry and geochemistry. Her research tackles problems related to pollutant metals and the biogeochemical processes that alter their distribution in water, soil, and air. The applications of this work include environmental remediation technologies, 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, the impacts of coal ash disposal on water quality, and recovering valuable materials from coal ash wastes. 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

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions:

  • Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. President of the United States of America. 2011

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 493: Research Independent Study in Civil and Environmental 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)
    • Deonarine, A; Hsu-Kim, H; Zhang, T; Cai, Y; Richardson, CJ, Legacy source of mercury in an urban stream-wetland ecosystem in central North Carolina, USA., Chemosphere, vol 138 (2015), pp. 960-965 [10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.12.038] [abs].
    • Jiang, C; Aiken, GR; Hsu-Kim, H, Effects of Natural Organic Matter Properties on the Dissolution Kinetics of Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles., Environmental Science & Technology, vol 49 no. 19 (2015), pp. 11476-11484 [10.1021/acs.est.5b02406] [abs].
    • Lauer, NE; Hower, JC; Hsu-Kim, H; Taggart, RK; Vengosh, A, Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials in Coals and Coal Combustion Residuals in the United States., Environmental Science & Technology, vol 49 no. 18 (2015), pp. 11227-11233 [10.1021/acs.est.5b01978] [abs].
    • Kucharzyk, KH; Deshusses, MA; Porter, KA; Hsu-Kim, H, Relative contributions of mercury bioavailability and microbial growth rate on net methylmercury production by anaerobic mixed cultures., Environmental Sciences: Processes and Impacts, vol 17 no. 9 (2015), pp. 1568-1577 [10.1039/c5em00174a] [abs].
    • Ticknor, JL; Kucharzyk, KH; Porter, KA; Deshusses, MA; Hsu-Kim, H, Thiol-Based Selective Extraction Assay to Comparatively Assess Bioavailable Mercury in Sediments., Environmental Engineering Science, vol 32 no. 7 (2015), pp. 564-573 [10.1089/ees.2014.0526] [abs].