Lab Group

Ph.D. Students

Leenia Mukhopadhyay

I am an environmental chemist with an MS in chemistry from NIT Jamshedpur, India. Currently, I am a first year Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon University. My previous work involved the synthesis of nanoparticles with the aim of catalytically degrading organic pollutant dyes in wastewater. I am interested in the fate of organic pollutants in the environment and am working on extracting and quantifying per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in marine animals. Outside of working at the lab, I enjoy badminton, hiking and hanging out with my dog, Rocket!

David A. Dukes

David is an environmental engineer with a background in geochemistry. David has a MS in geology from Temple University where he helped develop a method using rare earth element tracers to quantify aeolian transportation rates. He has also spent time working in environmental remediation, addressing contaminated sites throughout New Jersey. David’s current research is focused on the bioaccumulation and metabolites of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) present in aqueous film forming foams.

Rachel Smolinski

Rachel is a PhD student in the Chemistry department at Carnegie Mellon University. She received her BS in chemistry at the University at Buffalo, where she studied inorganic synthesis of alternative MRI contrast agents. Rachel is interested in the fate, transformation, and persistence of organic contaminants in marine and groundwater environments. She is affiliated with the New York State Center for Clean Water Technology at Stony Brook and is currently using high resolution mass spectrometry to identify trace organic contaminants in domestic wastewater and their transformation products in Nitrogen Removing Biofilters.

Postdoctoral Scientists 

Dr. Dilani Perera

Dilani received her B.S. degree (with honors) in Chemistry from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2016, and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry from the Florida International University in 2021 and 2022, respectively. She joined the McDonough lab in 2023 as a postdoctoral scientist.

Dilani’s previous work focused on developing a novel method to remediate per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in biological systems. Her current work at the McDonough lab focuses on using high-resolution mass spectrometry for targeted and non-targeted screening of PFASs in biological matrices. Outside the lab, Dilani spends time with her two babies Sahansa and Vidvaan.

Dr. Raj Mukhopadhyay [Fulbright-Nehru Fellow]

I am an environmental chemist with a background of soil and water science.  I obtained BS (Agriculture) from Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya, West Bengal, India in 2012 and MS (Soil Science) from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India in 2014. I received PhD in Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry from Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, India in the year 2018. Prior to join McDonough group, I was working as a Soil Scientist at Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, Karnal, India. My previous research works focused on removal of organic and inorganic contaminants (metals, metalloids and emerging contaminants) from soil and water using modified clay minerals, biowastes, and nanomaterials in collaboration with colleagues from Australia, South Korea and Taiwan. Currently, I am working on development of engineered clay mineral adsorbents using naturally available clay minerals and biowastes to remove PFAS from contaminated water and reducing PFAS bioavailability to wheat crop, deciphering an inexpensive and green PFAS remediation method. Outside of working at the lab, I spend time in cooking, hiking and listening to music.

Group Lead

Dr. Carrie McDonough – Assistant Professor of Chemistry

I am a chemical oceanographer and analytical chemist working at the intersection of environmental analytical chemistry, environmental health engineering, and toxicology. I received my B.Sc. in Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2008, and my Ph.D. in Chemical Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography (URI GSO) in 2017. I completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Colorado School of Mines, where I developed methods for nontarget analysis of per/polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in biological fluids. I use cutting-edge environmental monitoring and analytical chemistry techniques to study the fate, transport, and biological effects of anthropogenic organic contaminants in aquatic environments. Broadly, I am interested in how the molecular structure and chemical properties of pollutants influence their fate in the environment, as well as their biological effects in aquatic organisms and humans. My overarching objective is to understand human and ecosystem health risk associated with organic contaminants in water and to identify particular compounds of concern that should be prioritized for remediation and toxicological investigation. When I’m not working, I am usually brewing beer and hanging out with my dogs, Millie (pictured here) and Pickles.


Jennifer Marciano, Thesis Master’s 2023 (Current Position: Environmental consultant at Vanasse Hangen Brustlin): Per/polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Northern Atlantic White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) Plasma and Muscle

Noor Hamdan, Project Master’s 2022 (Current Position: Ph.D. Student at Johns Hopkins University): Bioaccumulation of Sediment-Associated Per/Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) in Marine Polychaetes