Leadership

The scientific objectives of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Mercury SFA are aligned to its four integrated research tasks: Ecosystem Features (Task 1); Biogeochemical Mechanisms (Task 2); Microbial Community Functions (Task 3); and Molecular Structure, Dynamics, and Mechanisms (Task 4). These tasks are managed across the SFA as an integrated team effort.

Eric Pierce

Eric Pierce

Laboratory Research Manager, ORNL
pierceem@ornl.gov

Dr. Eric M. Pierce is a senior scientist and leader of the Earth Sciences Group in the Environmental Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. in Environmental Science with emphasis in low-temperature geochemistry from Tulane University in 2002. Dr. Pierce currently serves as an Associate Editor for Applied Geochemistry. His research focuses on low-temperature environmental geochemistry with emphasis in solid-fluid interactions. Specific interests are the application of experimental, spectroscopic, and computational approaches to characterize, interpret, and predict the weathering of soil minerals/glass and the fate and transformation of metals and radionuclides in environmental systems. (ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4951-1931).

Scott Brooks

Scott Brooks

Task 1 Lead: Ecosystem Features

Dr. Scott Brooks is a Distinguished R&D Scientist in the Environmental Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), where he has maintained an active, externally funded research program for over 18 years. He received both an M.S. and a Ph.D. degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia, and he has authored or co-authored more than 90 articles, book chapters, and reports, and more than 220 presentations and abstracts. Dr. Brooks’ research focuses on the coupled geochemical and microbiological reactions governing the movement, fate and transformation of nutrients, heavy metals and radionuclides in soils, groundwater, and surface water. He has worked in and led interdisciplinary teams formed through internal and external partnerships to conduct both basic and applied research spanning lab- to field-based investigations. In addition to the goal of improving our fundamental understanding of natural and impacted systems, his research aims to provide a sound scientific foundation for identifying problems, advancing remediation technologies, and evaluating the success of such approaches. For additional information, please visit: https://www.ornl.gov/staff-profile/scott-c-brooks.

Baohua Gu

Baohua Gu

Task 2 Lead: Biogeochemical Mechanisms

Dr. Baohua Gu holds a joint appointment as a Distinguished Senior Scientist and Professor in the Environmental Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1991, and is an author of over 250 journal publications, books or book chapters, with an H-Index of 52 (by Web of Science). His major research areas include biogeochemical transformation and transport of environmental pollutants (e.g., mercury, uranium, and emerging contaminants), soil carbon–mineral interfacial interactions and spectroscopic studies, surface enhanced Raman and nanomaterials research and environmental applications. For additional information, please visit: https://www.ornl.gov/staff-profile/baohua-gu.

Dwayne Elias

Dwayne Elias

Task 3 Lead: Microbial Community Functions

Dr. Dwayne Elias is the Microbiology Team Leader for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Biogeochemical Transformations at Critical Interfaces Science Focus Area. He received an M.S. in Microbiology from the University of Manitoba, and a Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Elias works on a variety of research interests within the general area of Microbial Physiology, Microbial Ecology, and Biochemistry. Particular areas of focus are the bioremediation of toxic metals and radionuclides, the genetics and biochemistry of sulfate-reducing, iron-reducing and methanogenic bacteria, and the elucidation of novel biochemical pathways. Dr. Elias is an Academic Editor at the journal PLoS One and an Associate Editor at the Frontiers in Microbiology Journal. He currently holds positions as Research Staff Scientist in the Biosciences Division at ORNL, as Assistant Professor in the Biochemistry & Cellular and Molecular Biology Department at the University of Tennessee, and as Adjunct Associate Professor at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. For additional information, please visit: https://www.ornl.gov/staff-profile/dwayne-elias.

Jerry Parks

Jerry Parks

Task 4 Lead: Molecular Structure, Dynamics, and Mechanisms

Dr. Jerry Parks is a computational chemist and Research Staff Scientist in the Biosciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He received an M.S. in Chemistry from Southern Methodist University, and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Duke University. His research interests range from the thermodynamics of metal-ligand species in aqueous solution to the structure and function of bacterial proteins and enzymes. Applying such methods as quantum chemistry, molecular dynamics simulation and structural bioinformatics, Jerry engages in active collaborations with multidisciplinary teams of scientists from universities and research institutes across the nation and globally. Dr. Parks is a recipient of the ORNL Director’s Award for Outstanding Team Accomplishment, the UT-Battelle Award for Scientific Research, and an ORNL Significant Event Award for the discovery of genes and proteins required for bacterial mercury methylation. For additional information, please visit: http://cmb.ornl.gov/people/parks.

Alex Johs

Alex Johs

Notable Contributor

Dr. Alexander Johs is a Research Staff Scientist in the Environmental Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Dr. Johs is a molecular biophysicist with a background in biochemistry and structural biology using neutron and X-ray scattering techniques. His research interests include the molecular structure and function of biological macromolecules, integration of bioinformatics and structural biology, protein-membrane interactions, sustainable chemistry and bioinspired materials. Current areas of research include the characterization of enzymes and metabolic pathways involved in mercury transformations and the development of model systems to study the interactions of proteins with biological membranes. In addition, he has interest and expertise in translating molecular-scale insights into applied technologies related to remediation of heavy metal contamination and the development of carbon-neutral feedstocks for the production of advanced sustainable materials. Dr. Johs is a recipient of the ORNL Director's Award for Outstanding Team Accomplishment, the UT-Battelle Award for Scientific Research, and the Stanley I. Auerbach Award for Excellence in Environmental Sciences. For additional information, please visit: https://www.ornl.gov/staff-profile/alexander-johs.

Scott Painter

Scott Painter

Notable Contributor

Scott Painter is a subsurface flow and reactive transport modeler in the Climate Change Science Institute and the Environmental Sciences Division at ORNL. His current research interests include the thermal hydrology of thawing permafrost, integrated surface/subsurface hydrology at the catchment scale, contaminant transport in the subsurface and in low-order streams, and fractured rock hydrology. He is author or co-author of more than 60 journal articles. Prior to joining ORNL in 2014, Scott had positions with the Computational Earth Sciences Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory (2010-2014), Southwest Research Institute (1998-2012), CSIRO Australia (1993-1998), and the Australian National University (1990-1993). He received his PhD in nuclear engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1990.

Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith

Notable Contributor

Dr. Jeremy Smith, of the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, performs and directs research in high-performance computer simulation of biological macromolecules, neutron scattering in biology, the physics of proteins, enzyme catalysis, bioenergy, environmental biogeochemistry, early-stage drug discovery and the analysis of structural change in proteins. Dr. Smith has built up research groups in three different countries. His first group was in Biomolecular Simulation at the Commissariat à l'énergie atomique (CEA) at Saclay, France from 1989 to 1998. He then became the first chaired professor in computational biology in Germany, when appointed at the Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing of the University of Heidelberg, Germany in 1998. In October 2006 Dr. Smith became the first Governor's Chair at the University of Tennessee and also Director of the UT/ORNL Center for Molecular Biophysics at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In 2008, Smith was appointed Honorarprofessor at the University of Heidelberg.

The ORNL Mercury SFA is sponsored by the Subsurface Biogeochemical Research (SBR) program within the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Biological and Environmental Research.