Jean M. Smolen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Director, Environmental Science Program
Disciplines Taught: Chemistry, Environmental and Sustainability Studies, Environmental Science
Office: Science Center 420
Phone: (610) 660-1785
Fax: (610) 660-1783

I attended Chatham College in Pittsburgh PA.  While enrolled at Chatham, I completed an internship in the Molecular Sciences Research Center at the Pacific Northwest National Lab in Richland WA.  I graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry from Chatham College in 1990.

I conducted my graduate research under the supervision of Dr. Alan T. Stone in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore MD.  I completed my thesis "The influence of dissolved metal ions and metal-containing surfaces on the hydrolysis of phosphoro(thio)nate ester pesticides" and was awarded the Ph.D. in 1996.

After completing my studies at Johns Hopkins, I was awarded a Post-doctoral Research Associateship by the National Research Council.  I worked at the Environmental Protection Agency Ecosystems Research Laboratory in Athens GA with Dr. Eric J. Weber examining the fate of reducible organic compounds in reducing sediments from local water bodies. 

I accepted a position in the Chemistry Department at Saint Joseph's University in 1998 and was promoted to associate professor in 2004.  Since joining the department I have taught General Chemistry, General Chemistry Laboratory, and Analytical Chemistry.  I also coordinate the General Chemistry Laboratory Curriculum.  In 2008, I became director of the Environmental Science Program at Saint Joseph's University.  I teach Environmental Chemistry and Exploring the Earth as part of this program that includes a Minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies. 



B.S. Chatham College (1990)

Ph.D. The Johns Hopkins University (1996)

Courses Taught


General Chemistry I and II          

General Chemistry Laboratory I and II

Environmental Chemistry

Analytical Chemistry

The Environment

Exploring the Earth


Selected Publications

 *indicates undergraduate authors

Johnson, R.L., Anschutz, A.J., Smolen, J.M., Simcik, M.F. and Penn, R.L. (2007) "The Adsorption of Perfluorooctane Sulfonate onto Sand, Clay, and Iron Oxide Surfaces," J. Chem. Eng. Data. 52, 1165-1170.

Smolen, J.M., McLaughlin, M.A.*, McNevin, M.J.*, Haberle A.*, and Swantek, S.* (2003) "Reductive dissolution of Goethite and the Subsequent Transformation of 4-Cyanonitrobenzene: Role of Ascorbic Acid and pH," Aquatic Sciences, 65, 308-315.

Smolen, J.M., Weber, E.J., and Tratnyek, P.G. (1999) "Molecular Probe Techniques for the Identification of Reductants in Sediments: Evidence for Reduction of 2-Chloro-acetophenone by Hydride Transfer," Environ. Sci. Technol., 33, 440-445.

Smolen, J.M. and Stone, A.T. (1998) "Metal (Hydr)oxide Surface-Catalyzed Hydrolysis of Chlorpyrifos-Methyl, Chlorpyrifos-Methyl Oxon, and Paraoxon," Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 62, 636-643. 

Smolen, J.M. and Stone, A.T. (1998) "Organophosphorus Ester Hydrolysis Catalyzed by Dissolved Metals and Metal-Containing Surfaces," In: "Soil Chemistry and Ecosystem Health," Soil Science Society of America Special Publication, P.M. Huang, Edit.

Smolen, J.M. and Stone, A.T. (1997) "Divalent Metal Ion-Catalyzed Hydrolysis of Phosphorothionate Ester Pesticides and Their Corresponding Oxonates," Environ. Sci. Technol., 31, 1664-1673.

Stone, A.T., Torrents, A., Smolen, J., Vasudevan, D., and Hadley, J. (1993) "Adsorption Of Organic Compounds Possessing Ligand Donor Groups at the Oxide/Water Interface," Environ. Sci. Technol., 27, 895-909.



My research program focuses on understanding the fate of complex organic molecules in the natural environment. Many organic pollutants are degraded via chemical processes influenced by chemical (organic and inorganic) species.  Ongoing projects in our lab seek to contribute to the vast effort underway to identify the constituents of natural sediments and aqueous environments that contribute to or can accelerate the degradation of organic pollutants. The goal of this work is to construct a chemical model of the natural environment that evaluates whether the presence of naturally-occurring chemical constituents, such as natural organic matter and organic acids, contribute to the abiotic reduction of organic pollutants through the generation of ferrous iron from ferric hydroxides or through the generation of other effective reductants.

These research projects have had a significant impact on student learning and experience. With some guidance, my research students are able to design specific experiments that will generate the data that is necessary to better quantify our experimental systems.  The students are exposed to analytical equipment and techniques that they will encounter in industry and academic labs including liquid chromatography, gas chromatography, atomic absorption spectroscopy and ultraviolet/visible spectrophotometry.  I have advised 16 undergraduate chemistry majors in my research laboratory, many of which have gone on to graduate school in chemistry.

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