Melissa Lenczewski

Melissa Lenczewski

Associate Professor
Geomicrobiology, Organic Geochemistry, Contaminant Hydrogeology
Office: 411 Davis Hall
Phone: (815) 753-7937
Fax: (815) 753-1945



Organic Geochemistry Lab

Geomicrobiology Lab

Educational Background

1997-2001 Ph.D; Geological Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Advisor: Dr. Larry D. McKay
Dissertation: Biodegradation of Trichloroethylene in Fractured Shale and Saprolite

1991-1993 Master of Science; Soil, Water and Environmental Science, University of Arizona
Advisor: Dr. Charles P. Gerba
Thesis: Comparative Transport of Bacteriophage and Microspheres in an Aquifer under Forced-Gradient Conditions

1987-1991 Bachelor of Science, Microbiology, minor in Chemistry, University of Arizona, Tucson

Research Interests

  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Contaminant Hydrogeology

Research Activities  >

Selected Publications >

Teaching >

Interesting Links

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