School of Science – Research
Chemistry & Biochemistry
Dr. Balkir’s research interests lie broadly in renewable energy. Dr. Balkir is currently working utilization of the waste materials for environmentally benign processes such as biofuel synthesis. She is interested in converting organic materials, such as waste, into energy. Her research group continues to research and develop innovative solutions to dealing with the byproducts, conserving/producing energy, and producing new products.
My student-directed research fits under the marquee of “Environmental Chemistry.” I focus on green organic chemistry. Specifically, our students examine (i) remediation of contaminated water using naturally occurring organic molecules, (ii) new and more environmentally friendly ways to perform undergraduate organic reactions and (iii) innovative technology for recycling chemical reagents that historically have been discarded after use.
My research has focused upon the physical and chemical environment that affects the distribution and abundance of intertidal marine invertebrates, particularly mollusks and crustaceans. My studies include: (1) thermal load and desiccation on tropical snail behavior, growth and survival, (2) sediment and metal toxicology in estuarine crustaceans, (3) salinity tolerances of invasive non-native Asian shore crabs, and (4) sediment and water-borne cues on molting of crab megalopae. The high shore tropical periwinkle is a robust snail: body temperatures can exceed 115OF and individuals can lose 20% of their water, reduce expression of stress proteins, exhibit low mortality rates, and live > 11 years. Models organisms (amphipod and shrimp) have been used to test (1) the applicability of the Equilibrium Partitioning (EqP) method for developing quality criteria for arsenic in sediments and (2) evaluating complexation between nickel ions and chlorides in estuarine waters. Recent evidence suggests that low salinity waters may represent a physiological barrier to further expansion of the Asian shore crab. Larvae of native and non-native crabs use different chemical cues to recognize suitable adult habitat.
Bivalve mollusks as filter- feeders play a critical role in the integrity of estuarine ecosystem. In the process of removing suspended particles, they can trap microbes, including human protozoan parasite oocysts of Cryptosporidium parvum and Toxoplasma gondii. Thus, bivalves could be used as biosentinels for monitoring water quality. We propose to determine the prevalence of human intestinal parasites in bivalves collected from New York City. A survey of human parasites in Mya arenaria, Crassostrea virginica, Geukensia demissa, and Mytulis edulis was thus initiated.
I’m currently collaborating with Light and Life Lab at Stevens Institute of Technology. We are using Multi-channels moderate bandwidth filter Instruments (NILUVs) to measure UV radiations, the Data are used to retrieve total Ozone column, UV index and cloud optical depth. The results can provide crucial information needed to assess the climate impact of ozone, clouds, aerosols, and water vapor.