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Environmental Studies
University of Mississippi

James Cizdziel

Associate Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry
380 Coulter HallJames Cizdziel, Associate Professor of Chemistry

Educational and Professional Background:
B.S., State University of New York at Buffalo, 1991
Ph.D., University of Nevada Reno, 1998
National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, US EPA, National Exposure Research Laboratory, 1998-2000
Senior Chemist, Harry Reid Center for Environmental Studies, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2000-2005
Associate Research Professor, UNLV, 2005-2008
Assistant Professor, University of Mississippi, 2008-2015
Associate Professor, University of Mississippi, 2015-present

Dr. Cizdziel studies Environmental Chemistry. 
Here students are adapting and using a quadcopter for targeted sampling of atmospheric mercury and volatile organic compounds.

Dr. Cizdziel studies Environmental Chemistry. 
Here students are adapting and using a quadcopter for targeted sampling of atmospheric mercury and volatile organic compounds.

Research Interest:
Analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry, forensic chemistry, biogeochemical cycling of mercury, environmental radioactivity, environmental monitoring and fingerprinting, analytical method development

Research Summary
My research interests are in the area of analytical, environmental, and forensic chemistry. I am particularly interested in environmental monitoring and fingerprinting using isotope based methods. What counts in science is novelty. To that end, we enjoy developing new measurement techniques or applying standard techniques in novel ways. Listed below are some examples of the type of research that you may pursue if you were to join my group. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss these and other research possibilities with you as you decide whether to pursue graduate education in chemistry at Ole Miss.

Trace Elemental Analysis: I am interested in studying the behavior of trace elements (both stable and radioactive) in the environment. This sometimes involves developing novel analytical methods for measurement of the element or forms of the element (speciation). One of the methods we employ involves direct elemental and isotopic analyses of environmental or biological samples using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). This allows us to map the elemental distribution in, for example, tree rings, thin sections of brain tissue, glass shards, paint chips, fish otiliths, leaves, etc. Current research projects in this area include in-situ elemental analysis of leaves, herbal supplements, and biological shells, and the analysis of human hair and animal fur for metals. Future work may include environmental fate and transformation of nanoparticles, and evaluating metal redistribution in soils and biological uptake resulting from invertebrate burrowing, among others.

Mercury: Mercury (Hg) has probably the most complex biogeochemical cycle among the elements. Because of its tendency to bioconcentrate in food chains in the form of methyl-Hg and cause detrimental human health and ecological effects, it continues to be a hot button issue and a priority pollutant. Indeed, Hg is responsible for the most fish consumption advisories in the nation due to elevated Hg levels in fish flesh. This includes reservoirs in northern Mississippi nearby our campus. Current research projects in this area include the distribution and cycling of Hg in the Yocona River Watershed and development of a combustion-CVAFS system for Hg analyses. Future research projects may include, addressing spatial and dry deposition data gaps in Hg cycling chemistry models, evaluating Hg release characteristics from compact fluorescent lamps, environmental forensic investigations of Hg using high precision isotope measurements, and using mosquitoes as bio-indicators methyl-Hg accumulation in food webs, among others.

Dr. Cizdziel received a grant from the Water Resources Research Institute and the USGS titled “Microplastics in the Mississippi River and Mississippi Sound: concentrations, sources, sizes, types, and loadings to the northern Gulf of Mexico”

Dr. Cizdziel received a grant from the Water Resources Research Institute and the USGS titled “Microplastics in the Mississippi River and Mississippi Sound: concentrations, sources, sizes, types, and loadings to the northern Gulf of Mexico”

From the above examples and the select publications listed below you can get a sense of the type of research my group conducts. The studies often include a combination of method development and field experiments that serve to provide much needed quality data to address current hype on an issue or to increase understanding of natural phenomena. My experience and expertise in environmental and analytical chemistry offers opportunities for students to apply chemical principles to understand environmental problems, the first crucial step in solving them.

Instrumentation: Our research laboratory is well-equipped for trace elemental and isotopic analysis. It includes a high resolution ICP-MS (Element-XR), a quadrupole-ICP-MS (X-Series 2), a laser ablation system (UP-213 New Wave), an ICP-OES (Perkin Elmer Optima 2100), a microwave digestion system (Milestone Ethos EZ), a cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectrometer (Tekran 2600), a direct mercury analyzer (DMA-80 Milestone), an automated MeHg analysis system, airborne mercury speciation equipment, and clean-room facilities. We also have access to a variety of other instruments commonly found in Chemistry Departments such as GC/MS, NMR, XRF, FT-IR, and IRMS.

ICP-MS Facility: We are fortunate to have a new state-of-the-art ICP-MS facility housed in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. ICP-MS is a sensitive multi-element technique which provides a powerful analytical tool for trace elemental and isotope analysis. It is used in a wide-variety of environmental, biological, medical, forensic, geological and archaelogical studies. For more information, see the instrumentation section below and visit our website at:

Courses Taught:
Quantitative Analysis (CHEM 314); Introduction to Instrumental Analysis (CHEM 469); Advanced Instrumental Analysis (CHEM 512); Applied Spectroscopy (CHEM 563); Environmental Forensics (CHEM 615); Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (CHEM 615)

Recent Publications:

Chen J., Black O., Scircle A., Zhou Y., Cizdziel J. (in review) “Adaption and use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (Quadcopter) for targeted sampling of vapor phase mercury in the atmosphere” Atmospheric Environment.,

Black O., Cody R., Edwards D., Cizdziel J. (2017) “Identification of Polymers and Organic Gunshot Residue in Evidence from 3D-Printed Firearms using DART-Mass Spectrometry: A Feasibility Study”, J. Forensic Chem., 5:26-32.

Duke S., Rimando A., Reddy K., Cizdziel J., Bellaloui N., Williams M., Maulf J. (2017) “Lack of transgene and glyphosate effects on mineral nutrition and amino acid content of glyphosate-resistant soybean” Pest Management Sci. DOI: 10.1002/ps.4625.

Bussan D., Ochs C., Jackson C., Anumol T., Snyder S., Cizdziel J. (2017) “Concentrations of select dissolved trace elements and anthropogenic organic compounds in the Mississippi River and major tributaries during the summer of 2012 and 2013” Environ. Monitor. & Assessment,189:73.

Bussan D., Sessums R., Cizdziel J. (2016) “Activated carbon and biochar reduce mercury methylation potentials in aquatic sediments”, Bull. Environ Contam Toxicol. 96(4): 536-539.

Wolff S., Brown G., Chen J., Meals K., Thornton C., Brewer S., Cizdziel J., Willett K. (2016) “Mercury Concentrations in Fish From Three Major Lakes in North Mississippi: Spatial and Temporal Differences and Human Health Risk Assessment”, Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A. 79(20):894-904.

Plukiene R., Plukis A., Puzas A., Gvozdzite R., Barkauskas G., Cizdziel J. Bussan D., Remeikis V (2016) Actinides input to the dose in the irradiated graphite of RBMK-1500 reactor”, Nuclear Engineering and Design, 300:530-53.

Bussan D., Sessums R., Cizdziel J. (2015) “Direct mercury analysis in environmental solids by ICP-MS with on-line sample ashing and mercury preconcentration using a direct mercury analyzer”, J. Anal. Atom. Spec. 30:1668-1672.

Chen J., Chakravarty P., Davidson G., Wren D., Locke M., Zhou Y., Cizdziel J. (2015) “Simultaneous Determination of Mercury and Organic Carbon using a Direct Mercury Analyzer based on Thermal Decomposition – Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry” Anal. Chim. Acta., 871:9-17

Hawkins A.D., Thornton C., Kennedy A.J., Bu K., Cizdziel J., Jones B.W., Steevens J.A., Willett K.L. (2015) “Gill Histopathologies following exposure to nanosilver or silver nitrate” J. Toxicol & Environ. Health Part A, 78:301-315.

Reidy L., Williams, R., Bussan D., Brewer S., Cizdziel J.V. (2014) “Elemental fingerprinting of gypsum drywall using sector field ICP-MS and multivariate statistics” Int. J. Environ. Anal. Chem. DOI:10.1080/03067319.2014.954561.

Hawkins A.D., Bednar A.J., Cizdziel J.V., Bu K., Steevens J.A., Willett K.L. (2014) “Identification of silver nanoparticles in Pimephales promelas gastrointestinal tract and gill tissues using flow field flow ICP-MS”, RSC Advances, 4:41277-41280.

Lu D., Cizdziel J., Yi J., White L., Reddy R. (2013) “Numerical Simulation of Atmospheric Mercury in the Mid-South USA”,  Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health, (online 28 Mar 2014).

Brown G., Sleeper K., Johnson M., Blum J., Cizdziel J. (2013) Mercury concentrations, speciation, and isotopic composition in sediment from a cold seep in the northern Gulf of Mexico, Marine Pollution Bulletin 77:308-314.

Reidy L., Bu K., Godfrey M., Cizdziel J. (2013) “Elemental fingerprinting of soils using ICPMS and multivariate statistics: A study for and by forensic chemistry majors”, Forensic Science International 233:37-44.

Yi J., Cizdziel J., Lu D. (2013) “Temporal patterns of atmospheric mercury species in northern Mississippi during 2011-2012: influence of sudden population swings”, Chemosphere 93(9): 1694-1700.

Gremillion P., Hermosillo E., Sweat K., Cizdziel J. (2013) “Variations in mercury concentration within and across Xanthoparmelia spp individuals: Implications for evaluating histories of contaminant loading and data interpretation”, Environmental Chem. 10(5): 395-402.

Cizdziel J., Dempsey S., Halbrook R. (2013) “Preliminary evaluation of the use of homing pigeons as biomonitors of mercury in  urban areas of the USA and China”,  Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 90:302-307.

Nowinski P., Hodge V., Gerstenberger S., and Cizdziel J. (2013) “Analysis of mercury in rock varnish samples in areas impacted by coal-fired power plants”, Environmental Pollution 179:132-137.

Bu K., Dasher D., Cizdziel J. (2013) “Plutonium concentration and 240Pu/239Pu atom ratio in biota collected from Amchitka Island, Alaska: Recent measurements using ICP-SFMS”,  Environ. Radioactivity 124:29-36.

Bu K., Russ J., Cizdziel J. (2013) “The source of iron-oxide pigments used in Pecos River style rock paints”, Archeometry 55(6): 1088-1100.

Davidson G.R., Rigby J.R., Pennington D., Cizdziel J. (2013) “Aqueous chemistry of sand-boil discharge used to trace variable pathways of seepage beneath levees during the 2011 Mississippi River flood” Applied Geochemistry 28: 62-68.

Bu K., Reidy L. and Cizdziel J. (2013) “Analysis of Herbal Supplements for Selected Dietary Minerals and Trace Elements by Laser Ablation- and Solution-Based ICPMS”, Microchemical Journal 106: 244-249.

Duke S., Reddy K, Bu K., and Cizdziel J. (2012) “Effects of Glyphosate on the Mineral Content of Glyphosate-Resistant Soybeans (Glycine max)”, J. Agric. Food Chem., 60 (27), pp 6764–6771.

K. Drace, A. Kiefer, M. Veiga, M. Williams, B. Ascari, K. Knapper, K. Logan, V. Breslin, A. Skidmore, D. Bolt, G. Geist, Lorlyn Reidy, Cizdziel, J, “Mercury-free, small-scale artisanal gold mining in Mozambique: Utilization of magnets to isolate gold at clean tech mine”, J. of Cleaner Production, 29 March 2012 (10.1016/j.jclepro.2012.03.022).

Russ J., Bu K., Hamrick J., Cizdziel J. (2012) “Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry Analysis of Lower Pecos Rock Paints and Possible Pigment Sources” in Collaborative Endeavors in the Chemical Analysis of Art and Cultural Heritage Materials, ACS Symposium Series, Vol. 1103, Ch 5, pp 91–121 (DOI: 10.1021/bk-2012-1103.ch005).

Cizdziel J., Bu X., Nowinski P. (2011) “Determination of elements in situ in green leaves by laser ablation ICP-MS using pressed reference materials for calibration”, Analytical Methods 4: 564-569.

Cizdziel J., Jiang Y. (2011) “Concentrations of Gaseous Elemental Mercury in Ambient Air within an Academic Chemistry Building”, Bull. Environ Contam Toxicol 86:419–422.

Cizdziel, J. (2011) “Mercury in Environmental and Biological Samples Using Online Combustion with Sequential Atomic Absorption and Fluorescence Measurements: A Direct Comparison of Two Fundamental Techniques in Spectrometry”, Journal of Chemical Education Vol. 88, 2:209-215.

Nowinski P., Hodge V., Cizdziel J., Lindley K. (2011) “Rock varnish: a passive forensic tool for monitoring recent air pollution and source identification”, Nuclear Technology, 175:351-359.

Nowinski P., Hodge V., Lindley K., Cizdziel J. (2010) “Elemental Analysis of Desert Varnish Samples in the Vicinity of Coal- Fired Power Plants and the Nevada Test Site Using Laser Ablation ICPMS”, The Open Chemical and Biomedical Methods Journal, 3: 153-168.

Gamage S.V., Hodge V.F., Cizdziel J., Lindley K. (2010) “Determination of Vanadium (IV) and (V) in Southern Nevada Groundwater by Ion Chromatography-Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry”, The Open Chemical and Biomedical Methods Journal, 3, 10-17.

Cizdziel, J. and Chen, W.-Y. (2010) Chapter 2, GC/MS for Combustion and Pyrolysis Research in Handbook of Combustion Vol 2: Combustion, Diagnostics and Pollutants (Eds M. Lackner, F. Winter and A.K. Agarwal) Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, pp. 51 – 74.

Cizdziel J., Brown G., Tolbert C. (2010) “Direct analysis of environmental and biological samples for total Hg with comparison of sequential atomic absorption and fluorescence measurements from a single combustion event”, Spectrochemica Acta Part B,65:176-180.