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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. David Borrok

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David Borrok, Ph.D. obtained his B.S. in Geology and Geophysics from the University of Missouri at Rolla (currently Missouri University of Science and Technology).  He obtained his M.S. in Geology from the University of Michigan and his Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from the University of Notre Dame. His Ph.D. research was in geomicrobiology and geochemistry which stemmed directly from his experience working in the industry for six years between his M.S. and Ph.D.

Dr. Borrok’s primary interests focus on the cycling and fate of elements like sulfur, copper, and zinc in the environment.  He uses isotope geochemistry and geochemical modeling to investigate these cycles and has examined these processes at a variety of scales, from continental weathering and watershed scales to experimental work.  He has also worked on a variety of natural, contaminated, engineered, and urban systems.

These interest in the fate and transport of metals and their interactions with bacteria were inspired by his industry experience working for three years as an exploration geologist, looking for gold, silver, lead, zinc, and copper in the U.S. and South America. He then worked three years dealing with hazardous waste investigations and remediation on sites contaminated with heavy metals. He based his Ph.D. research off of these experiences and his inspiration from wanting to solve important scientific problems such as water management and sustainability.

Dr. Borrok is currently working on several projects that deal with metal cycling and non-traditional (e.g., zinc, copper, and iron) isotope systems; however, since arriving at UL, his focus has largely turned to coastal systems, developing projects where his skills intersect with coastal issues like nutrification and water management. His current collaborative NSF Ocean Sciences grant with a group from University of Minnesota and MIT focuses on experimentally determining iron isotope fractionation factors for the formation of iron sulfide minerals in sea-floor hydrothermal systems. The idea is that if they can constrain the isotope dynamics of these systems, then they can use iron isotopes as tools to better understand the cycling of Fe in the oceans.

As the Director of the School of Geosciences and the Institute for Coastal Ecology and Engineering, Dr. Borrok has recently focused more on facilitating and organizing research projects. His goal is to help to put together inter- and multi-disciplinary research teams to tackle complex coastal problems and to go after big funding opportunities. Part of this effort is trying to build facilities, like a water analysis laboratory, that can support these efforts. Dr. Borrok’s future research plans are working on putting together projects and proposals dealing with water quality and water management problems in Louisiana and looking at water chemistry issues associated with petroleum and production.