Matthew Sima

HMEI-STEP Fellow 2023
Civil and Environmental Engineering

HMEI-STEP Topic: PFAS Forever Chemicals: Policy Evaluation and Recommendations

HMEI-STEP Adviser: Denise Mauzerall

Thesis Topic: Investigating the Coupling of Feammox Process and PFAS Biodegradation in Batch Incubation and Constructed Wetland Mesocosms by Experiments and Modeling

Thesis Adviser: Peter Jaffé

Matthew is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering working with Professor Peter Jaffé. For his doctoral work, he is studying the effect of increasing PFAS concentrations on soil microbiology, specifically the bacterium Acidimicrobium sp. Strain A6. This A6 bacterium has been shown to couple the Feammox process with PFAS defluorination as a means of PFAS remediation in batch incubations. Over the course of his research, Matthew has developed a kinetic model to support this coupling process in the presence of both pure and multi-PFAS cultures and shown that PFAS defluorination and the Feammox process can be stimulated in natural soils as a method of in-situ PFAS remediation. Matthew is also involved in research on PFAS remediation in wastewater treatment plant biosolids and is working to understand the mechanism, genes, and proteins involved in this coupling process.

Matthew will be completing his HMEI-STEP research with Professor Denise L. Mauzerall where he will use his technical background to create policy evaluations and recommendations to better inform the development of future PFAS policy. His work will be spit into 4 parts: an investigation of current regulations and policies; an analysis of impacted industrial sectors; the identification of optimal removal technologies and destruction methods for PFAS before and after they have entered the environment; and an evaluation of future PFAS regulations to prevent the continued use and development of PFAS-inspired alternatives.