Alessandra Leri teaches courses in organic chemistry, general chemistry, and environmental science. She also leads a freshman seminar on the urban ecosystem and coordinates the Environmental Studies program. Her research group, composed entirely of MMC undergraduates, conducts experiments in environmental chemistry.
Prof. Leri’s research interests lie in organic geochemistry, particularly the biogeochemical cycles of halogens in terrestrial and marine environments. Her papers have helped overturn the long-established paradigm of halogens as unreactive inorganic elements in the environment. Recently, her research has shown that natural organochlorine production is associated with fungal degradation of plant litter on the forest floor. Her subsequent work has shed light on the seasonal chlorination and dechlorination of soil organic matter. She has also revealed that naturally produced organobromine is ubiquitous in both marine and terrestrial systems, definitively changing the view of bromine in the environment. Prof. Leri has recently turned her attention to organochlorine pollutants, specifically the by-products of disinfection in manufacturing and household processes. With undergraduates at MMC, she investigates the production of organochlorine in fabrics during laundry bleaching and organochlorine in vaginal tampons. She also studies natural bromination mechanisms in seawater and soil using a newly developed synchrotron-based technique. She regularly brings students to the synchrotron facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island for experimental “beamtimes.” Her students have presented their results at various undergraduate research symposia in the region, winning presentation awards on many occasions.
Ph.D., Chemistry, Princeton University (NSF Graduate Research Fellow)
B.S., Chemistry, magna cum laude, College of William and Mary
- P. Northrup, A. Leri, and R. Tappero (2016). Applications of “tender” energy (1-5 keV) X-ray absorption spectroscopy in life sciences. Protein and Peptide Letters 23, 300-308.
- A. Leri and B. Ravel (2015). Abiotic bromination of soil organic matter. Environmental Science and Technology 49, 13350-13359.
- A. Leri, L. Mayer, K. Thornton, P. Northrup, M. Dunigan*, K. Ness*, and A. Gellis* (2015). A marine sink for chlorine in natural organic matter. Nature Geoscience 8, 620-624.
- A. Leri, L. Mayer, K. Thornton, and B. Ravel (2014). Bromination of marine particulate organic matter through oxidative mechanisms. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 142, 53-63.
- A. Leri and B. Ravel (2014). Sample thickness and quantitative concentration measurements in Br K-edge XANES spectroscopy of organic materials. Journal of Synchrotron Radiation 21, 623-626.
- A. Leri and L. Anthony* (2013). Formation of organochlorine by-products in bleached laundry. Chemosphere 90, 2041-2049.
* denotes MMC undergraduate co-author
General Chemistry I-II and associated labs
Organic Chemistry I-II and associated labs
Chemistry and the Environment
Energy and Climate Change
Introduction to Environmental Science
Environmental Science with an Ethical Perspective
Journals: Biogeosciences, Chemosphere, Environmental Science and Technology, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Funding Agencies: Czech Science Foundation, Department of Energy-Biological and Environmental Research, National Science Foundation
Synchrotron Facilities: Canadian Light Source, Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Light Source
Current Service to MMC
- Committee on Promotion and Tenure, 2016-present
- Honors Day Committee, 2016-present
- Liaison to the Environmental Consortium of Colleges and Universities, 2015-present
- Coordinator, Environmental Studies Program, 2014-present
- Faculty Advisor, Science Society, 2008-2011, 2014-2015
- Faculty Advisor, GoGreen Coalition, 2008-2009, 2014-present
- Departmental Website Coordinator, 2013-present
- Faculty Representative, Barry M. Goldwater Fellowship, 2012-present
- Member, Academic Standing Committee, 2010-present
- Member, Barry Commoner Lecture Series Committee, 2010-present