The Leppert lab researches the synthesis and characterization of technological and environmental nano/microphases, with an emphasis on transmission electron microscopy and electron energy-loss spectroscopy.

We are interested in the structure-property-performance-biological response relationships of nano/microphases. Two particular areas of current research are air particulate matter and photocatalytic nanomaterials.

For our air particulate studies, we work with the O’Day lab at UC Merced and Forman lab at USC to study the physichemical properties of nanoparticulate matter collected from areas heavily impacted from air pollution, and use what we learn to create model particle systems with carefully controlled chemistries to study their effects in cell culture studies. This work is very relevant to California, where eight of the ten worst polluted cities in the U.S., in terms of particulate matter, are located.

For our photocatalytic nanomaterials work, we collaborate with Dra. Monserrat Bizarro Sordo at the Instituto de Investigaciones en Materiales, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, to study bismuth oxyhalide nanoparticles for application in solar water treatment. This work is very relevant to the sustainability of communities, agriculture and industry in California and Northern Mexico, due to water scarcity and water quality issues.