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Melissa Lenczewski

Research Interests

Research Activities

Hyper-alkaline groundwater of Calumet wetlands (South Chicago, IL)

  • Geochemistry and microbial life in the highly alkaline Calumet region, Illinois (with Wesley Swingley, NIU Biological Sciences)
  • Remediation study- changes geochemistry influence microbial communities

Fate and transport of Antibiotics, Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Produce

  • Surface water quality, including nutrients, bacteria, metals and antibiotics in the vicinity of confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) (with Kendall Thu, NIU Anthropology)
  • Analyzing water samples collected from a local river used as a drinking water supply to determine if antibiotics are present. Determination if antibiotics have made it into river sediments and have the potential to infiltrate groundwater.
  • Natural attenuation of pharmaceuticals and illicit drugs in laboratory columns.

Research on groundwater in the Yucatan Peninsula (with Rosa Maria Leal-Bautista, Centro de Investigacion Cientifica de Yucatán)

  • Tracing groundwater flow in karst using chemical and biological indicators (with Jean McLain, University of Arizona, Water Resources Research Center)
  • Effects of tourism on Salmonella flagellar gene variation (with Mel Duvall, NIU Biological Sciences)
  • Analysis of the native microbial communities in sulfidic groundwater (with Mel Duvall, NIU Biological Sciences)
  • Determination of public health from use of recreational waters (with Tomoyuki Shibata, NIU Public Health)
  • Research Experience for Undergraduates: Investigaciones sobre el Agua: Research in water sciences in the Yucatan

Nachusa Grasslands

  • Conducting hydrogeological and geological study of the Nachusa Grasslands
  • Tracing groundwater flow near the soil boils using geophysics, geochemistry and physical flow (with Phil Carpenter, NIU Geology and Environmental Geosciences)

Microbiological Communities changes in different environments

  • Influences of biostratinomic and diagenetic processes on microbial preservation of primary soft tissues during the fossilization of bone (with Joe Peterson, University of Wisconsin, Osh Kosh)
  • Fate of Drilling Fluids during the South McMurdo Sound Project (SMS) of the Antarctic Geological Drilling Program (ANDRILL)

Geochemical Analysis

  • Stable isotope and geochemical analysis of surface and groundwater interactions in the Atacama Desert (with Justin Dodd, NIU Geology and Environmental Geosciences)

Selected Publications

Peterson, J., M. Lenczewski and R. Scherer. 2010. Influence of Microbial Biofilms on the Preservation of Primary Soft Tissue in Fossil and Extant Archosaurs. PLoS ONE 5(10): e13334. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013334.

Lenczewski, M., L. Rigg, N. Enright, J. Tanguy and H. Kelly. 2009. Microbial Communities Associated with Shrubland and Rainforest in Ultramafic Soils, Mont Do, New Caledonia. Austral Ecology. 34: 567-576.

Lenczewski, M.. R. Leal-Baustista and S. Kroll. 2007. Influence of Ethanol and MTBE on the Biodegradation and Transport of Benzene in Loess. Environmental Geosciences. v. 14; no. 3; p. 137-148.

Lenczewski, M., L. McKay, A. Pitner and S. Driese. 2006. Pure Phase Transport and Dissolution of TCE in Sedimentary Rock Saprolite. Ground Water. 44:406-414.

Leal-Baustista, R. and M. Lenczewski. 2006. Sorption of MTBE and benzene in fine-grained materials from northern Illinois and the Chalco Basin, Mexico. Environmental Geosciences. 13:31-41.

Lenczewski, M., L. McKay and A. Layton. 2004. Anaerobic biodegradation of TCE in undisturbed columns of fractured saprolite. Ground Water. 42:534-541.

Lenczewski, M., P. Jardine, L. McKay and A. Layton. 2003. Natural Attenuation of Trichloroethylene in Fractured Shale Bedrock. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology. 64: 151-168.

McKay, L., J. Fredericia, M. Lenczewski, J. Morthorst and K. E. S. Klint. 1999. Spatial Variability of Contaminant Transport in a Fractured Till, Avedore Denmark. Nordic Hydrology. 30:333-360.

Lenczewski, M. and L. Kananen. 1998. Automated Method to Optimize Antimicrobial Preservative Levels in Personal and Home Care Products. Journal of AOAC International. 81:534-539.

Bales, R., S. Li, T.C.J. Yeh, M. E. Lenczewski and C. P. Gerba. 1997. Bacteriophage and Microsphere Transport in Saturated Porous Media: Forced-Gradient Experiment at Borden, Ontario. Water Resources Research. 33: 639-648.

Hinsby, K., L. D. McKay, P. Jorgensen, M. Lenczewski and C. Gerba. 1996.Fracture Aperture Values and Contaminant Migration in a Column of Clay Till. Ground Water. 34:1065-1075.

Lenczewski, M., S. T. McGavin and K. J. VanDyke. 1996. Comparison of Automated and Traditional Minimum Inhibitory Concentration Procedures for Microbiological Cosmetic Preservatives. Journal AOAC International. 79:1294-1299.


      • Introduction of Environmental Geology
      • Geomicrobiology
      • Contaminant Hydrogeology
      • Organic Geochemistry
      • Environmental Geochemistry
      • Environmental Field Camp

Associate Professor
Geomicrobiology, Organic Geochemistry, Contaminant Hydrogeology

Organic Geochemistry Lab

Geomicrobiology Lab

Fax: 815-753-1945
411 Davis Hall 



Ph.D. University of Tennessee; 2001

M.S. University of Arizona; 1993

B.S. University of Arizona; 1991

Contact Us

Geology and Environmental Geosciences
Davis Hall 312

815-753-1943 (tel)
815-753-1945 (fax)