Nanoparticle scientist honored

Devin Rippner
Devin Rippner

Devin Rippner receives Van Alfen/MacDonald Graduate Student Support Fund Award

Devin Rippner is the 2018 recipient of the Neal Van Alfen and James MacDonald Graduate Student Support Fund Award for his research and leadership on the environmental fate of metals and metal oxide nanoparticles in soil and water.

“Devin is a passionate and driven young scientist who is committed to his graduate education and research, while also demonstrating a dedication to service and providing leadership to his peers,” said his major professor, Sanjai Parikh, a soil chemist in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources.

Because nanotechnology is relatively new, little is known about potential impacts to human health and the environment. Engineered metal nanoparticles are commonly present in recycled wastewater and biosolids, so understanding their activity in the environment has become increasingly important. Rippner’s research examines nanoparticles in soil and water systems, as well as nanoparticle impacts on aquatic plants, soil health and crop performance. He works with a diverse team of soil scientists, radiochemists and engineers to determine the potential for intact nanoparticles to be taken up into the roots of plants and transported throughout the plant.

Rippner is a Ph.D. candidate who has displayed commitment to service through volunteering as a member of the stewardship team of the Putah Creek Council. He helped lead activities to promote the restoration of the riparian hydrology of Putah Creek, including propagating indigenous plant species, removing invasive species and leading stream clean-up activities in the cities of Davis and Winters. He also is involved in the Salmon in the Classroom program put on by the Putah Creek Council to teach children about the importance of local salmon to the ecosystem.

Rippner also has mentored numerous undergraduate and beginning graduate students in Parikh’s environmental soil chemistry laboratory and serves as the lab safety coordinator.

In the future, Rippner hopes to continue work as an environmental educator and to conduct research involving water reuse, agricultural production and environmental protection. “I want my work to help inform smart policy decisions that reduce landfill use and increase agricultural productivity while protecting the environment from emerging contaminants,” he said.

The Neal Van Alfen and James MacDonald Graduate Student Support Fund Award was established several years ago to acknowledge the contributions of former CA&ES dean Van Alfen and former executive associate dean MacDonald. The honor includes a $7,500 award.

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