Department of Environmental Science,

Policy and Management

Group Members

Laura Nielsen Lammers, PhD

née Laura C. Nielsen, Principal Investigator


Assistant Professor of Environmental Geochemistry

     Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

     University of California, Berkeley

Faculty Scientist

     Earth and Environmental Science Area

     Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

2013-14 - Geochemist

     Geosyntec Consultants, Acton, MA

2012-13 - Postdoctoral Scholar

     Stanford University, Stanford, CA

2012 - Ph.D. in Geochemistry

     University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

2008 - B.A. in Earth Sciences

     Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH


ESPM Profile


Elliot Chang

PhD Student

Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management


Research interests

My geochemistry research includes both molecular dynamic modeling and analytical measurements using ion chromatography and mass spectrometry. I am currently modeling a new Silicon Dioxide/Carbon Dioxide/Water three-phase system that provides insight into the wetting dynamics between carbon dioxide and silicon dioxide; this is relevant to studying the stability of carbon dioxide within subsurface geological reservoirs during carbon capture and storage. I am also working towards optimizing bioadsorption of rare earth elements to Caulobacter surfaces with Lanthanide binding tags. A promising dissertation topic would be to use molecular dynamic simulations to better understand the process in which Lanthanide binding tags enable selective bioadsorption of rare earth elements.


Karol Kulasinski, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


Research interests

Using Molecular Dynamics simulation as a primary investigation tool, I am focused on molecular transport and adsorption phenomena at atomistic resolution and hundreds of nanoseconds time frame: (1) I am contributing to the "Radionuclide immobilization by clays" project by analyzing Cs+ trajectories on frayed edge of clay minerals, as a factor of ionic strength of solution or interlayer spacing. (2) In order to understand stable isotope fractionation at mineral surfaces we determine the free energy barrier for ion detachment from kink sites using steered molecular dynamics and Monte Carlo simulations. The modeling results are compared with high-resolution imaging techniques, such AFM or ptychography.


Jennifer Mills

PhD Student

Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management


Research interests

I am a geochemist interested in a wide range of issues related to energy and climate. My current research focuses on surface chemistry, carbonates, and crystal growth - I'm interested in understanding how the molecular-scale interactions that occur at mineral-fluid interfaces control macro-scale reaction rates and geochemical cycling. I'm currently working on two main projects that span the basic science - applied science continuum. In the first, I'm using a combination of laboratory crystal growth experiments and simulation techniques to probe how trace element incorporation and changes in ionic strength influence calcium carbonate growth rates and calcium isotope fractionation. In the second, I'm using reactive transport modelling to model carbonate precipitation/dissolution in arid soils, with the aim of quantifying the soil inorganic carbon budget and its response to both short-term (e.g. utility-scale solar installation) and long-term (e.g. climate change) perturbations.


ESPM Profile


Elizabeth Mitnick

PhD Student

Department of Earth and Planetary Science


Research interests

I use a combination of lab experiments, geochemical modeling, and natural sample characterization to understand the formation of abiogenic carbonates in natural environments, with a current focus on marine sediments. I am interested in very small-scale, fundamental growth processes, as well as major elemental cycles (C, Ca, Mg) over Earth history that influence and are influenced by the formation of carbonates.


In my experimental work, I investigate how carbonate minerals nucleate and grow from solutions of varying composition (e.g., different Mg:Ca ratios that we see in marine sediment pore waters) by running controlled growth experiments and measuring isotopes of Ca and Mg, which are useful indicators of rate-dependent processes. I use geochemical modeling of pore fluid Ca and Mg concentrations in marine sediments to estimate rates of in situ abiogenic (authigenic) carbonate formation using a reactive-transport framework. Future work includes the use of nanoSIMS to characterize the spatial distribution and trace element content of authigenic carbonate formation in marine sediments.


Undergraduate researchers

Holly Barnhart


Former lab members

Kathrin Schilling (Postdoc, Royal Holloway, University of London)

Kedarnath Kollouri (Postdoc)