P. Lee Ferguson

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

P. Lee  Ferguson Profile Photo
P. Lee Ferguson Profile Photo

Research Interests

Environmental analytical chemistry and applications of high resolution mass spectrometry to trace organic contaminant analysis, environmental fate and effects of carbon nanomaterials in the aquatic environment, proteomics in environmental toxicology, and mechanisms of environmental endocrine disruption in aquatic organisms

Bio

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.

Education

  • Ph.D. State University of New York, Stony Brook, 2002

Positions

  • Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences and Policy

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow. National Academy of Sciences. 2011
  • Outstanding Performance Award. Fundamental Science Directorate, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. 2003
  • President's Award to Distinguished Doctoral Students. Stony Brook University. 2002
  • Honorable Mention. National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship Competition. 1998
  • U.S. EPA STAR Graduate Fellowship. Environmental Protection Agency. 1998
  • Belle W. Baruch Outstanding Undergrduate in Marine Science Award. University of South Carolina. 1997
  • Howard Hughes Undergraduate Research Fellow. University of South Carolina. 1996
  • Senior Scholars Scholarship. University of South Carolina. 1996
  • Undergraduate Research Fellow, South Carolina EPSCoR. National Science Foundation. 1995

Courses Taught

  • CEE 565: Environmental Analytical Chemistry
  • CEE 667: Chemical Transformation of Environmental Contaminants
  • ENVIRON 393: Research Independent Study
  • ENVIRON 393A: Research Independent Study
  • ENVIRON 566: Environmental Analytical Chemistry
  • ENVIRON 573A: Coastal and Marine Pollution
  • ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects
  • ENVIRON 667: Chemical Transformation of Environmental Contaminants
  • ENVIRON 898: Program Area Seminar
  • ENVIRON 899: Master's Project
  • ENVIRON 997: Duke Environmental Leadership: Independent Studies and Projects
  • ENVIRON 999: Duke Environmental Leadership: Master's Project
  • MARSCI 393A: Research Independent Study
  • MARSCI 573A: Coastal and Marine Pollution