Principle Investigator

Dr. Wenqing (Vicky) Xu

Wenqing received a B.S. in Environmental Engineering (2007) from Nankai University, M.S. in Environmental Engineering (2009) from Johns Hopkins University, and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Yale University (2014). Her areas of expertise include water and wastewater treatment, soil and groundwater remediation, and contaminants fate and transport.

Email:         Phone: (610) 519 8549
Google Scholar:

Current Students

Ph.D. Student

Han Cao (
Han received a B.S. degree in Environmental Engineering from University of Shanghai for Science and Technology (2014) and a M.S. degree in Environmental Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology (2018). He joined the group in Fall 2019. His research is majorly focused on understanding surface properties of solid pyrogenic carbonaceous matter (PCM) using PCM-like polymers, and investigating the interaction between reductive sulfide species and PCM in degradation of chlorinated contaminants. He is also interested in studying the redox properties of the pyrogenic dissolved organic matter (i.e. pyDOM), as well as the fate and transportation of emerging contaminants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). He is a sport fan, and likes exercising during his leisure. 


Ph.D. Student

Pamela Rose V. Samonte (

Pamela received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering (2017) from McGill University in Montréal, Canada. She finished an M.S. degree in Chemical Engineering at Villanova University in 2019. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. studies at the Villanova College of Engineering. She joined the group in Spring 2018. Her current project focuses on enzymatic applications with pyrogenic carbonaceous matter for environmental remediation. In her spare time, Pamela enjoys singing, playing the guitar and piano, and embroidery.

Ph.D. Student

Nourin Seenthia (

Nourin received her B.S degree in Water Resources Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology (BUET) in 2017. After coming to the US in 2018, she started working as a chemist in a pharmaceutical laboratory in New York. She joined the group in Summer 2021 and is currently pursuing PhD in Environmental Engineering at Villanova University. Her current work focuses on analyzing pyrogenic carbonaceous matter that simultaneously adsorb and transform legacy and insensitive high explosives (IHE). She loves to do free hand sketching. She is a writer by passion and interested in different activities related to the literature. 


Master's Student

Mackenzie Bowden (

Mackenzie received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Villanova in 2018 and is currently pursuing a M.S. in Sustainable Engineering. She joined the group in 2020 after returning from a Fulbright Research Fellowship in Indonesia. Her current work focuses on analyzing the efficiency of pyrogenic carbonaceous materials in hydrolyzing munitions constituent residues at environmentally-relevant pH. 

Undergraduate Student

Megan Fitzpatrick (

Megan is currently pursuing a B.S. in Civil Engineering with minors in sustainability, humanitarian engineering, and Spanish. She is passionate about environmental engineering, water quality, and the intersection of social justice and engineering. She has been conducting research under the mentorship of Dr. Xu since 2020 and is currently investigating the removal of nitrate from groundwater using biochar with an enhanced anion-exchange capacity. She also enjoys dance, musical theatre, and spending time outside.

Group Alumni

Ph.D Students (Name, year of graduation, ''thesis title'', current affiliation)

  • Zhao Li, 2020, ​''Unravel the Reactivity of Solid and Dissolved Phases of Pyrogenic Carbonaceous Matter (PCM) in Mediating Chemical Reactions in the Environment'', Shenzhen Zhongxing Innovative Materials Technology Co., Ltd

  • Kai Ding, 2018, ''Pyrogenic Carbonaceous Matter (PCM) as Reactive Sorbents in Facilitating the Transformation of Hazardous Organic Compounds (HOCs) in Both Abiotic and Biological Systems'', ​Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Master Students (Name, year of graduation, ''thesis title'', current affiliation)

  • Xiaolei Xu2021, ''Synergy between Black Carbon and Sulfide on the Transformation of Chloroacetamide Herbicides and Safeners'', Texas A&M University 


Undergraduate Students (Name, year of graduation)

  • Minh Dang, 2018

  • Michael Caggiano, 2016

  • Cecily Wang, 2016

  • Cory Byrnes, 2015

  • Vincent Martino, 2015

Postdoctoral Fellows and Visiting Scholars (Name, position, year in Villanova, current affiliation)

  • Sushobhan Pradhanpostdoctoral researcher, 2021/09-2022/03, Oklahoma State University

  • Mark Segall, postdoctoral researcher, 2018-19

  • Hanqing Zhao, Visiting Scholar, 2017-18, University Science and Technology of China

  • Ting Chen, Visiting Scholar, 2016, Guangdong GDH Water Company LLC., China