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Desirée Plata

Desirée Plata
  • Title Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Graduate Admissions Chair
  • Email
  • Faculties Climate, Environment & Life Science
  • Address Room 48-423
  • Telephone 617.258.8596
  • Research Website
  • Assistant Lumidi Campbell,


  • B.S. 2003, Union College
  • Ph.D. 2009, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: Joint Program in Oceanography/ Applied Ocean Science and Engineering

Research Interests

Novel material design, carbon-based materials, global carbon budgets and response strategies, oil and gas development, oil spills and remediation technologies, gas extraction and distribution systems, resource management utilization and efficiency, environmental sustainability.

Awards and Honors

  • Department of Energy Innovation Crossroads (to Nth Cycle LLC), 2018
  • Young Investigator Sustainability Fellow, Resnick Institute, Caltech, 2017
  • NSF CAREER Award, 2016 Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development, 2015
  • National Academy of Sciences US-Korea Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow, 2013
  • National Academy of Engineers Frontiers of Engineering Fellow, 2012
  • National Academy of Sciences Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow, 2011
  • C. Ellen Gonter Environmental Chemistry Award, American Chemical Society, 2008
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, 2004
  • Frank Bailey Prize, Union College, 2003
  • Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, 2001

Selected Publications

  1. Falinski, M.M.; Plata, D.L.; Chopra, S.S.; Theis, T.L.; Gilbertson, L.M.; Zimmerman, J.B. Navigating nanomaterial space for performance, hazard, and cost: Approaching sustainable nanomaterial selection and design. Nature Nanotechnology. 2018 DOI: 1038/s41565-018-0120-4
  2. Karatum, O.; Bhuiya, M.M.H.; Carroll, M.K.; Anderson, A.M.; Plata, D.L. Life cycle assessment of aerogel manufacture on small and large scales: Weighing the use of advanced materials in oil spill remediation. Journal of Industrial Ecology 2018 DOI:10.1111/jiec.12720
  3. Sumner, A.J.; Plata, D.L. Exploring the hydraulic fracturing parameter space: A novel high-pressure, high-throughput reactor for investigating subsurface chemical transformations. Environmental Sciences: Processes and Impacts 2018 DOI:10.1039/C7EM00470B
  4. Shi, W.; Peng, Y.; Steiner III, S.A.; Li, J.; Plata, D.L. Carbon dioxide promotes dehydrogenation in the equimolar C2H2-CO2 reaction to synthesize carbon nanotubes. 2018 DOI:10.1002/smll.201703482
  5. O’Connor, M.P.; Coulthard, R.M.; Plata, D.L. Electrochemical deposition for the separation and recovery of metals using carbon nanotube-enabled filters. Environmental Sciences: Water Research and Technology 2018 DOI:10.1039/C7EW00187H
  6. Shi, W.; Xue, K.; Meshot, E.R.; Plata, D.L. Mapping the carbon nanotube formation parameter space: Data mining and mechanistic understanding for efficient resource use. Green Chemistry 2017 19, 3787-3800. DOI: 10.1039/C7GC01421J
  7. Shi, W.; Li, J.; Polsen, E.S.; Oliver, C.R.; Zhao, Y.; Meshot, E.R.; Barclay, M.; Fairbrother, D.H.; Hart, A.J.; Plata, D.L. Oxygen-promoted catalyst sintering influences number density, alignment, and wall number of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes. Nanoscale 2017 9, 5222-5233. DOI:10.1039/C6NR09802A
  8. O’Connor, M.P; Zimmerman, J.B; Anastas, P.T.; Plata, D.L. A strategy for material supply chain sustainability: Enabling a circular economy in the electronics industry through Green Engineering. ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering20164 (11), pp 5879–5888 DOI:1021/acssuschemeng.6b01954
  9. Hoelzer, K.; Sumner, A.J., Karatum, O.; Nelson, R.K.; O’Connor, M.P.; Drollette, B.D.; D’Ambro, E.; ‡Getzinger, G.J.; Ferguson, P.L.; Reddy, C.M.; Elsner, M.; Plata, D.L. Indications of transformation products from hydraulic fracturing additives in shalegas wastewater. Sci. Technol. 2016 50 (15), 8036–8048. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b00430. †co-first authors
  10. Liggio, J.; Li, S-M.; Hayden, K.; Taha, Y.M.; Stroud, C.; Darlington, A.; Drollette, B.D.; Gordon, M.; Lee, P.; Liu, P.; Leithead, A.; Moussa, S.G.; Wang, D.; O’Brien, J.; Mittermeier, R.L.; Brook, J.; Lu, G.; Staebler, R.; Han, Y.; Tokarek, T.T.; Osthoff, H.D.; Makar, P.A.; Zhang, J.; Plata, D.L.; Gentner, D.R. Oil Sands Operations Are a Major Source of Secondary Organic Aerosols. Nature 2016 534, 91-94. DOI: 1038/nature17646
  11. Karatum, O; Steiner III, S.A.; Griffin, J.S.; Shi, W.; Plata, D.L. Flexible, mechanically-durable aerogel composites for oil capture and recovery. 2016 8 (1), 215-224. DOI: 10.1021/acsami.5b08439
  12. Drollette, B.D.; ‡Hoelzer, K.; Warner, N.R.; Darrah, T.H.; Karatum, O.; O’Connor, M.P.; Nelson, R.K.; Reddy, C.M.; Vengosh, A.; Jackson, R.B.; Elsner, M.; Plata, D.L. Elevated levels of diesel range organic compounds in groundwater near Marcellus gas operations are derived from surface activities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2015 112 (43), 13184-13189. DOI: 1073/pnas.1511474112
  13. Getzinger, G.; O’Connor, M.P.; Hoelzer, K.; Drollette, B.D.; Karatum, O.; Deshusses, M.A.; Ferguson, P.L.; Elsner, M.; Plata, D.L. Natural Gas Residual Fluids: Sources, Endpoints, and Organic Chemical Composition after Centralized Waste Treatment in Pennsylvania. Sci. Technol. 2015 49 (14), 8347-8355. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b00471
  14. Gilbertson, L.M.; Zimmerman, J.B.; Plata, D.L.; Hutchinson, J.E.; Anastas, P.T. Designing nanomaterials to maximize performance and minimize implications guided by the principles of green chemistry. Chemical Society Reviews. 2015 44, 5758-5777. DOI:1039/C4CS00445K
  15. Jackson, R.B.; ‡Down, A.; Phillips, N.G.; Ackley, R.C.; Cook, C.W.; Plata, D.L.; Zhao, K. Natural gas pipeline leaks across Washington, DC. Sci. Technol. 201448 (3), 2051-2058. DOI:10.1021/es404474x.