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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Students, Researchers and Emeritus

John L. Ferry

Title: Carolina Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Analytical / Bioanalytical / Catalysis / Nano / Physical and Theoretical / Spectroscopy
Department: Chemistry and Biochemistry
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Phone: 803-777-2646
Fax: 803-777-9521
Office: Office: GSRC 222
Lab:  GSRC 236, 803-777-2588
Lab 2:  GSRC 220
Lab 3:  GSRC 225
Resources: CV [pdf]
All Publications
John Ferry Group Website 
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Dr. John Ferry


B.S. Chemistry, 1990, University of Illinois-Urbana
M.S. Environmental Sciences and Engineering, 1993, University of North Carolina
Ph.D. Environmental Sciences and Engineering, 1996, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Honors and Awards

Michael J. Mungo Award for Undergraduate Teaching, 2012.

Research Interests

I am an environmental chemist with research specialization in the fate and transport of organic chemicals in the environment; water chemistry; photochemically driven oxidation; photocatalysis; kinetics, trace organic analysis; combinatorial chemistry and free radical chemistry.

Introduction:  My research is broadly centered on studying the fate of organic chemicals in the environment.  This includes man-made chemicals like pollutants, pharmaceuticals and pesticides; and also naturally occurring chemicals like biotoxins, signaling molecules and various plant products.  My group applies advanced analytical techniques to learn how these chemicals are transformed in or removed from the environment.

Analytical approaches:  Environmental analyses need to be fast, sensitive and selective.  We use whatever analytical tools we need to, but most often work with gas or liquid chromatographs with mass spectrometric or spectroscopic detectors.  We also use absorbance or fluorescence spectroscopy (steady state and time resolved); various electrochemical techniques, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, and transmission electron microscopy.

Experimental approaches:  Environmental chemists spend time in the field making measurements and in the laboratory testing explanations for their field work.  My group has done field work measuring the fate and distribution of organic chemicals, nanoparticles, transition metals, and oxidants like hydrogen peroxide or the hydroxyl radical.  We quantify the relationships between those analytes in the laboratory with sophisticated environmental modeling techniques.  We use robotic systems to generate solutions modeling hundreds of different environmental conditions simultaneously, a process called combinatorial environmental chemistry.  These solutions are spiked with a variety of probe molecules and contaminants, and then subjected to weathering processes in the laboratory.  This allows us to rapidly interrogate environmental systems for their ability to promote photodegradation, free radical oxidation, complexation of transition metals, etc.  Coupling this approach with field monitoring is one of the surest ways to make sound predictions about what will happen to pollutants as they are processed by environmental systems.

Selected Publications

Murphy, S. A.; Meng, S.; Solomon, B. M.; Dias, D.; Shaw, T. J.; Ferry, J. L., Hydrous Ferric Oxides in Sediment Catalyze Formation of Reactive Oxygen Species during Sulfide Oxidation. Frontiers in Marine Science, 2016, 3, 227-236,
DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2016.00227.

Dias, D.M.C.; Copeland, J.M.; Milliken, C,L.; Shi, X.; Ferry, J,L.; Shaw, T.J.; Production of Reactive Oxygen Species in the Rhizosphere of a Spartina-Dominated Salt Marsh Systems. Aquatic Geochemistry, 2016, 22, (5-6), 573-591,
DOI: 10.1007/s10498-016-9307-1.

Murphy, S. A.; Solomon, B. M.; Meng, S.; Copeland, J. M.; Shaw, T. J.; Ferry, J. L. Geochemical Production of Reactive Oxygen Species From Biogeochemically Reduced Fe. Environmental Science & Technology 2014, 48, (7), 3815 - 3821,
DOI:  10.1021/es4051764.

Chandler, G. T.; Schlekat, C. E.; Garman, E. R.; He, L.; Washburn, K. M.; Stewart, E. R.; Ferry, J. L., Sediment Nickel Bioavailability and Toxicity to Estuarine Crustaceans of Contrasting Bioturbative Behaviors - An Evaluation of the SEM-AVS Paradigm. Environmental Science & Technology 2014, 48, (21), 12893-12901
DOI: 10.1021/es5025977.

Burns, J. M.; Pennington, P. L.; Sisco, P. N.; Frey, R.; Kashiwada, S.; Fulton, M. H.; Scott, G. I.; Decho, A. W.; Murphy, C. J.; Shaw, T. J.; Ferry, J. L. Surface Charge Controls the Fate of Au Nanorods in Saline Estuaries. Environmental Science & Technology 2013, 47, (22), 12844 - 12851, DOI:  110.1021/es402880u.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.