P. Lee Ferguson

P. Lee Ferguson

Associate Professor of Environmental Chemistry and Engineering

Dr. Ferguson is an Environmental Analytical Chemist who joined Duke in 2009 after six years as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of South Carolina.

Research in the Ferguson laboratory is focused on development of novel methods for trace analysis of organic and nanoparticulate contaminants in the aquatic environment. Specifically, the laboratory uses high performance mass spectrometry techniques (e.g. UHPLC-Orbitrap MS/MS) to detect, identify, and quantify emerging contaminants (including endocrine disruptors, pharmaceuticals, and surfactants) in wastewater and drinking water. Another significant research thrust involves the development of sensitive trace analytical techniques for quantifying and characterizing single-walled carbon nanotubes in water, sediment, and aquatic organism tissues. For this work, near infrared fluorescence spectroscopy (NIRF) is used as a primary tool for resolving these novel nanoparticulate contaminants in highly complex environmental mixtures.

The analytical methods developed in the Ferguson laboratory laboratory (for both nanoparticles and organic contaminants) are applied to both process-oriented environmental chemistry experiments in the field and laboratory as well as to toxicity bioassays (including whole-organism assays and molecular endpoints). The overarching goal is to gain an increased understanding of how emerging contaminants are transported, transformed and induce deleterious effects within aquatic ecosystems.

In The News


Dasgupta, S, Choyke, S, Ferguson, PL, and McElroy, AE. "Antioxidant responses and oxidative stress in sheepshead minnow larvae exposed to Corexit 9500® or its component surfactant, DOSS." Aquatic toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands) 194 (January 2018): 10-17.
Farner Budarz, J, Cooper, EM, Gardner, C, Hodzic, E, Ferguson, PL, Gunsch, CK, and Wiesner, MR. "Chlorpyrifos degradation via photoreactive TiO2 nanoparticles: Assessing the impact of a multi-component degradation scenario." Journal of hazardous materials (December 11, 2017).
Kassotis, CD, Kollitz, EM, Ferguson, PL, and Stapleton, HM. "Nonionic Ethoxylated Surfactants Induce Adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 Cells." Toxicological sciences : an official journal of the Society of Toxicology (November 2, 2017).
Hollender, J, Schymanski, EL, Singer, HP, and Ferguson, PL. "Nontarget Screening with High Resolution Mass Spectrometry in the Environment: Ready to Go?." Environmental science & technology 51, no. 20 (October 2017): 11505-11512.
Ferguson, PL, and Stapleton, HM. "Comment on "Mutagenic Azo Dyes, Rather Than Flame Retardants, Are the Predominant Brominated Compounds in House Dust"." Environmental science & technology 51, no. 6 (March 10, 2017): 3588-3590.

Recent Grants


ENVIRON 790: Special Topics (ENVIRON 790: Special Topics)
ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects (ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects)
CEE 461L: Chemical Principles in Environmental Engineering (CEE 461L: Chemical Principles in Environmental Engineering)
ENVIRON 566: Environmental Analytical Chemistry (ENVIRON 566: Environmental Analytical Chemistry)
ENVIRON 542L: Environmental Aquatic Chemistry (ENVIRON 542L: Environmental Aquatic Chemistry)

Contact Information

Box 90287, 121 Hudson Hall
Durham, NC 27708-0287
Gross Hall, Room 379, Dept. of Civil & Environ. Engineering
Durham, NC 27708


Ph.D., State University of New York at Stony Brook (2002)