Heileen Hsu-Kim

Heileen Hsu-Kim

Mary Milus Yoh and Harold L. Yoh, Jr. Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Primary Appointment

School of Engineering

Professor Heileen (Helen) Hsu-Kim is an environmental engineer who specializes in environmental aquatic chemistry and geochemistry. Her research tackles problems related to pollutant metals and the biogeochemical processes that alter their distribution in water, soil, and air. The applications of this work include environmental remediation technologies, the impacts of energy production on water resources, global environmental health, and the environmental implications and applications of nanotechnology.

Dr. Hsu-Kim's current research projects are focused on mercury biogeochemistry, the environmental implications of nanomaterials, the impacts of coal ash disposal on water quality, and recovering valuable materials from coal ash wastes. A central theme to her work is the utilization of chemical speciation for understanding and predicting the persistence, mobility and bioavailability of metals and minerals in the aquatic environment.

The methodologies her group employs for this research include laboratory techniques for quantifying trace metal speciation, water-surface interactions, and in-situ applications of solid-state microelectrodes to determine important aquatic constituents in water and sediment.

In The News


Jiang, Chuanjia, Benjamin T. Castellon, Cole W. Matson, George R. Aiken, and Heileen Hsu-Kim. “Relative Contributions of Copper Oxide Nanoparticles and Dissolved Copper to Cu Uptake Kinetics of Gulf Killifish (Fundulus grandis) Embryos..” Environmental Science & Technology 51, no. 3 (February 2017): 1395–1404. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.6b04672.
Schwartz, Grace E., Lauren K. Redfern, Kaoru Ikuma, Claudia K. Gunsch, Laura S. Ruhl, Avner Vengosh, and Heileen Hsu-Kim. “Impacts of coal ash on methylmercury production and the methylating microbial community in anaerobic sediment slurries..” Environmental Science. Processes & Impacts 18, no. 11 (November 2016): 1427–39. https://doi.org/10.1039/c6em00458j.
Taggart, Ross K., James C. Hower, Gary S. Dwyer, and Heileen Hsu-Kim. “Trends in the Rare Earth Element Content of U.S.-Based Coal Combustion Fly Ashes..” Environmental Science & Technology 50, no. 11 (June 2016): 5919–26. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.6b00085.
Schwartz, G. E., N. Rivera, S. W. Lee, J. M. Harrington, J. C. Hower, K. E. Levine, A. Vengosh, and H. Hsu-Kim. “Leaching potential and redox transformations of arsenic and selenium in sediment microcosms with fly ash.” Applied Geochemistry 67 (April 1, 2016): 177–85. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2016.02.013.
Diringer, Sarah E., Beth J. Feingold, Ernesto J. Ortiz, John A. Gallis, Julio M. Araújo-Flores, Axel Berky, William K. Y. Pan, and Heileen Hsu-Kim. “River transport of mercury from artisanal and small-scale gold mining and risks for dietary mercury exposure in Madre de Dios, Peru..” Environmental Science. Processes & Impacts 17, no. 2 (February 2015): 478–87. https://doi.org/10.1039/c4em00567h.
Hsu-Kim, Heileen, Katarzyna H. Kucharzyk, Tong Zhang, and Marc A. Deshusses. “Mechanisms regulating mercury bioavailability for methylating microorganisms in the aquatic environment: a critical review..” Environ Sci Technol 47, no. 6 (March 19, 2013): 2441–56. https://doi.org/10.1021/es304370g.

Recent Grants


CEE 394: Research Independent Study in Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE 394: Research Independent Study in Civil and Environmental Engineering)
CEE 461L: Chemical Principles in Environmental Engineering (CEE 461L: Chemical Principles in Environmental Engineering)
CEE 666: Aquatic Geochemistry (CEE 666: Aquatic Geochemistry)
CEE 702: Graduate Colloquium (CEE 702: Graduate Colloquium)
ENVIRON 542L: Environmental Aquatic Chemistry (ENVIRON 542L: Environmental Aquatic Chemistry)

Contact Information

127A Hudson Hall
Durham, NC 27708
Box 90287
Durham, NC 27708-0287


Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley (2004)
M.S., University of California at Berkeley (1999)
B.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1998)