Desirée Plata

Desirée Plata


Plata Lab
John J. Lee Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Room / Office: Room 521
Office Address:
17 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 208263
New Haven, CT 06520
Phone: (203) 436-9066
  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • B.S., Union College (Schenectady, NY)


Industrially-important materials and chemicals, nanomaterial production and environmental detection, improving development of material and chemical manufacture to include environmental metrics, geochemical analysis, isotope geochemistry, predictive fate models, gas phase reactions, measurement of recalcitrant carbon solids and nanomaterials, novel material synthesis.

Selected Awards & Honors:

  • NSF CAREER Award, 2016
  • Oderbrecht 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
  • Mt. Holyoke College Student Government Association Mentoring Award, 2011
  • George "Gera" P. Panteleyev Award, MIT/WHOI Joint Program, 2009
  • C. Ellen Gonter Environmental Chemistry Award, American Chemical Society, 2008
  • MIT Martin Family Society of Fellows for Sustainability, 2007
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, 2004
  • Phi Beta Kappa, 2003
  • Sigma Xi, 2003, 2010
  • Frank Bailey Prize, Union College, 2003
  • Robert Fuller Prize, Union College, 2003
  • George Catlin Prize, Union College, 2003
  • Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, 2001
  • NSF Award for the Integration of Research and Education Fellow, 2000

Selected Publications:

  • Liggio, J.; Li, S-M.; Hayden, K.; Taha, Y.; 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.R.; Lu, G.; Staebler, R.M.; Han, Y.; Tokarek, T.W.; Osthoff, H.D.; Makar, P.A.; Zhang, J.; Plata, D.L.; Gentner, D.L. Oil Sands Operations as a Large Source of Secondary Organic Aerosols. Nature. 2016 534, 91-94. DOI: 10.1038/nature17646
  • Karatum, O; Steiner III, S.A.; Griffin, J.S.; Shi, W.; Plata, D.L. Flexible, mechanically-durable aerogel composites for oil capture and recovery. DOI: 10.1021/acsami.5b08439.
  • 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: 10.1073/pnas.1511474112.
  • 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. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2015 49 (14), 8347-8355. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b00471.
  • Kekacs, D.; Drollette, B.; Brooker, M.; Plata, D.L.; Mouser, P.J. Aerobic biodegradation of organic compounds in hydraulic fracturing fluid. Biodegradation. 2015 26 (4), 271-287. DOI: 10.1007/s10532-015-9733-6.
  • 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:10.1039/C4CS00445K.
  • Down, A.; Schreglman, K.; Plata, D.L., Elsner, M.; Warner, N.; Vengosh, A.; Moore, K.; Coleman, D.; Jackson, R.B. Pre-drilling background groundwater quality in the Deep River Triassic Basin of central North Carolina, USA. Applied Geochemistry. 2015. 60, 3-13. DOI:10.1016/j.apgeochem.2015.01.018.
  • Plata, D.L.; Hemingway, J.D.; Gschwend, P.M. Polyparameter linear free energy relationship for wood char-water sorption coefficients of organic sorbates. Environ. Toxicol. & Chemistry. 2015. 34 (7), 1464-1471. DOI:10.1002/etc.2951.
  • 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. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2014. 48 (3), 2051-2058. DOI:10.1021/es404474x.
  • Wiesner, M.R.; Plata, D.L. Incinerator filters nanoparticles. Nature Nanotechnology. 2012 7 (8), 487-488.
  • Plata, D.L.; Westerhoff, P.; Ferguson, P.L. Express it in numbers: Efforts to quantify carbon nanotubes in environmental matrices advance. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2012 46 (22), 12243-12245.
  • Plata, D.L.; Reddy, C.M.; Gschwend, P.M. Thermogravimetry- mass spectrometry for carbon nanotubes detection in complex mixtures. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2012. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2012 46 (22), 12254-12261. DOI: 10.1021/es203198x
  • Nessim, G.D.; Seita, M.; Plata, D.L.; O'Brien, K.P.; Hart, A.J.; Reddy, C.M.; Gschwend, P.M.; Thompson, C.V. Precursor gas chemistry determines the crystallinity of carbon nanotubes synthesized at low temperature. Carbon 2011, 49 (3), 804-810.
  • Plata, D.L.; Meshot, E.R.; Reddy, C.M.; Hart, A.J.; Gschwend, P.M. Multiple alkynes react with ethylene to enhance carbon nanotube synthesis, suggesting a polymerization-like formation mechanism. ACS Nano 2010, 4(12), 7185-7192.
  • Plata, D.L.; Hart, A.J.; Reddy, C.M.; Gschwend, P.M. Early evaluation of environmental impacts of carbon nanotube synthesis by catalytic chemical vapor deposition. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2009, 43 (21), 8367-8343.
  • Meshot, E.R.; Plata, D.L.; Tawfick, S.; Zhang, Y.; Verploegen, E.; Hart, A.J. Engineering vertically aligned carbon nanotube growth by decoupled thermal treatment of precursor and catalyst. ACS Nano 2009, 3 (9), 2477-2486.
  • Flores-Cervantes, D.X.; Plata, D.L.; MacFarlane, J.K.; Reddy, C.M.; Gschwend, P.M. Black carbon in the ocean: Inputs and cycling of highly recalcitrant organic carbon in the Gulf of Maine. Marine Chemistry 2009, 111 (3-4), 172-181.
  • Plata, D.L.; Gschwend, P.M.; Reddy, C.M. Industrially synthesized single-walledcarbon nanotubes: Compositional data for users, environmental risk assessments, and source apportionment. Nanotechnology 2008, 19, 185706.
  • Plata, D.L.; Sharpless, C.M.; Reddy, C.M. Photochemical degradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in oil films. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2008, 42(7), 2432-2438.
  • Arey, J.S.; Nelson, R.K.; Plata, D.L.; Reddy, C.M. Disentangling oil weathering using GC×GC. Part II. Mass transfer calculations. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2007, 41 (16), 5747-5755.
  • Nelson, R.K.; Kile, B.M.; Plata, D.L.; Sylva, S.P.; Xu, L.; Reddy, C.M.; Gaines, R.B.; Frysinger, G.S.; Reichenbach, S.E. Tracking the Weathering of an Oil Spill with Comprehensive Two-Dimensional Gas Chromatography. Environmental Forensics 2006, 7, 33–44.
  • Plata, D.L.; Briones, Y.J.; Wolfe, R.L.; Carroll, M.K.; Bakrania, S.D.; Mandel, S.G.; Anderson, A.M. Aerogel-platform optical sensors for oxygen gas. J. Non- crystalline Solids 2004, 350, 326-335.

Selected Patents:

  • D.L. Plata, E.R. Meshot, A.J. Hart, C.M. Reddy, P.M. Gschwend. "Alkyne-assisted nanostructure growth." United States Patent No. 8.545,791. Issued Oct 1, 2013. Filed June 17, 2010. Application No. 12/817,818.