Ludmilla Aristilde joined the faculty in the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering in the Fall of 2012. While growing up in Haiti, her interest in environmental issues was sparked by witnessing the impacts of deforestation on the environment and the links between water pollution and health during an epidemic outbreak of cholera. After emigrating to the States, she came to Cornell and completed a dual-degree program with a B.S. in Science of Earth Systems and a B.F.A. in Fine Arts. She went on to the University of California-Berkeley where she obtained her M.S. in Environmental Engineering and Ph.D. in Molecular Toxicology. Her research was on the environmental chemistry and toxicology of pharmaceutical compounds discharged in waters and soils. After Berkeley, she went to Grenoble (France) as an American Fulbright Scholar to advance her study of spectroscopic techniques to investigate the trapping of organic contaminants by mineral particles. Prior to her return to Cornell, she spent three years as a NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University where she studied molecular biology tools to address problems at the interface of environmental chemistry and biological processes.
The goal of the Aristilde Group is to contribute to a fundamental understanding of the “why” and “how” of the environmental behavior of biologically active organic molecules, with implications for ecosystem health, agricultural productivity, and biotechnology. We conduct molecular-scale investigations that combine experimental and computational approaches to elucidate the mechanisms that control the biological and physical fate of organic compounds. Our current research activities investigate bacterial metabolism of natural organic substrates, interactions of organic matter and contaminants with natural particles, bacterial responses to organic contaminants, and dynamics of nutrient-cycling extracellular enzymes.
Professor Aristilde teaches students environmental chemistry and its applications in the environmental engineering processes. At the undergraduate level, she focuses on introduction to environmental engineering, soil chemical processes, and principles of water chemistry. At the graduate level, she works with students on physico-chemical thermodynamics, physical chemistry of natural particles, and chemical toxicology of organic contaminants. Her current courses are BEE 2510 Engineering Processes for Environmental Sustainability and BEE 4200/6200 Surface Chemistry of Particles in Natural and Engineered Processes.
Awards and Honors
- Invited Professor (2017) Université Grenoble-Alpes, Institut des Sciences de la Terre, Grenoble, France
- NSF CAREER Award (2017) National Science Foundation, Co-funded by Environmental Engineering and Environmental Chemical Sciences
- Cornell Outstanding Educator for having most influenced a Merrill Presidential Scholar, Stephen Galdi (2016) Cornell University
- Early Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) (2016) NSF-Division of Environmental Chemical Sciences, Division of Geobiology and Low-Temperature Geochemistry, and Division of Environmental Engineering
- Hatch Grant (2016) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
- Wilkes, R. A., & Aristilde, L. (2017). Degradation and Metabolism of Synthetic Plastics and Associated Products by Pseudomonas spp: Capabilities and Challenges. Journal of Applied Microbiology.
- Pochodylo, A. L., & Aristilde, L. (2017). Molecular dynamics of stability and structures in phytochelatin complexes with Zn, Cu, Fe, Mg and Ca: Implications for metal detoxification. Environmental Chemistry Letters.
- Aristilde, L., Galdi, S. M., Kelch, S. E., & Aoki, T. G. (2017). Sugar-influenced water diffusion, interaction, and retention in clay interlayer nanopores probed by theoretical simulations and experimental spectroscopies. Advances in Water Resources.
- Aristilde, L. (2017). Metabolite labelling reveals hierarchies in Clostridium acetobutylicum that selectively channel carbons from sugar mixtures towards biofuel precursors. Microbial biotechnology. 10:162-174.
- McBride, M. B., Frenchmeyer, M., Kelch, S. E., & Aristilde, L. (2017). Solubility, structure, and morphology in the co-precipitation of cadmium and zinc with calcium-oxalate. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science. 486:309-315.
- Pochodylo, A. L., Aoki, T. G., & Aristilde, L. (2016). Adsorption mechanisms of microcystin variant conformations at water-mineral interfaces: A molecular modeling investigation. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science. 480:166-174.
- Sasnow, S. S., Wei, H., & Aristilde, L. (2016). Bypasses of glucose metabolism in iron-limited Pseudomonas putida. MicrobiologyOpen. 5:3-20.
- Aristilde, L., Lanson, B., Marichal, C., Miéhé-Brendlé, J., & Charlet, L. (2016). Enhanced interlayer trapping of a tetracycline antibiotic within montmorillonite layers in the presence of Ca and Mg. Journal of Colloid Interface. 464:153-159.
- Richter, H., Molitor, B., Wei, H., Chen, W., Aristilde, L., & Angenent, L. T. (2016). Ethanol production in syngas-fermenting Clostridium ljungdahlii is controlled by thermodynamics rather than by enzyme expression. Energy and Environmental Science. 9:2392-2399.
- Flannelly, D. F., Aoki, T. G., & Aristilde, L. (2015). Short-time dynamics of pH-dependent conformation and substrate binding in the active site of beta-glucosidases: A computational study. Journal of Structural Biology. 191:352-364.
Presentations and Activities
- Cellular Systems Biology Meets Geomicrobiology: Metabolomics-Based Approaches to Investigate Iron-Limited Microbial Carbon Metabolism. November 2016. University of Lausanne. Lausanne, Switzerland.
- Molecular Interactions of Organic Matter and Carbon-Cycling Enzymes at Water-Mineral Interfaces: Implications for Climate Change Impact and Industrial Application. November 2016. Unversité Grenoble Alpes. Grenoble, France.
- Clay Nanopore Trapping of Organic Contaminants Investigated through Experimental and Computational Approaches. October 2016. Universidad Autonoma de Madrid. Madrid, Spain.
- Beyond Cation Exchange Mechanisms in the Trapping of Antibiotics in Clay Interlayer Nanopores. 5th International Conference on Emerging Contaminants. September 2016. Sydney, Australia.
- A Cellular-Level Understanding of How Microbial Metabolism Controls Mineral and Carbon Cycling. Departmental Seminar. September 2016. Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Ithaca, NY.
- Molecular Probing of Biochemical Responses to Nutrient Stresses using Metabolomics Approaches. September 2016. La Trobe University. Albury, Australia.
- Rewiring of Cellular Metabolism in Response to Nutrient Limitation. Seminar. September 2016. University of Melbourne. Melbourne, Australia.
- Metabolomics-Guided Tracking of the Physical and Biological Journeys of Organic Nutrients and Contaminants. June 2016. San Francisco Estuary Institute. Richmond, CA.
- Investigating the Biochemical Dynamics of Organic Matter Cycling: A Metabolomics Approach. School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University. 2015. Soil and Crop Sciences Section. Ithaca, NY.
- The Everyday Role of Chemistry in Environmental Science and Engineering. Alpha Chi Sigma Speaker Series. 2014. Alpha Chi Sigma, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY.