Skip to main content

Brian A. Powell

Brian A. PowellProfessor
Fjeld Professor in Nuclear Environmental Engineering and Science
Rich Lab, 342 Computer Court
Anderson, SC 29625

Ph.D. Environmental Engineering and Science, Clemson University, 2004
M.S. Environmental Engineering and Science, Clemson University, 2001
B.S. Chemistry, University of Montevallo, 1999

Classes | Publications | Honors | CV

Faculty Overview

Dr. Brian A. Powell is a Professor in the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences at Clemson University and holds the Fjeld Professorship in Nuclear Environmental Engineering and Science.

Dr. Powell’s research focuses on understanding and prediction of the physical, chemical, and biological processes which govern the mobility of radionuclides in natural and engineered systems. He previously held postdoctoral appointments at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  He has a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Montevallo, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering and Science from Clemson University. Dr. Powell is the winner of the 2014 South Carolina Governor’s Young Researcher Award for Excellence in Scientific Research and the 2011 Clemson University Sigma Xi Young Investigator of the Year. He also serves on the Radiation Safety Committee of the USEPA Scientific Advisory Board and is a member of the National Council on Radiation Protection, Program Activity Committee 5: Environmental Radiation and Radioactive Waste Issues.

Dr. Powell has published over 60 refereed journal publications, 16 research reports, and made over 100 technical presentations on these topical areas.  He has conducted sponsored research in a wide range of projects dealing with topics of nuclear forensics, evaluation of nanoparticle behavior, sorption and environmental transport of plutonium, development of radiation detection and  radiation detection laboratory courses,  iodine, radium, strontium geochemistry in wetland and subsurface sediments, radionuclide geochemistry of saltstone and solid waste performance assessments at the Savannah River Site, measurement of thermodynamic parameters supporting advanced fuel cycle chemistry, and related topics.  These research projects have received over $16.9M in funding from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Nuclear Security Agency, and Savannah River Nuclear Services (through the South Carolina Universities Education and Research Foundation). The knowledge gained from this work can be used to evaluate risk posed by subsurface contamination, to design remediation strategies for contaminated sites, and to facilitate the use of safe disposal practices.

Class Information

For current syllabi, please search the Clemson University Syllabus Repository.

EES 8130 Environmental Radiation Measurements Laboratory
EES 8420 Environmental Actinide Chemistry
EES 8430 Environmental Chemistry
GEOL 3180 Geochemistry
GEOL 4590/6590 Biogeochemistry

Selected Publications

Davis, K., Vidmar, M., Khasanov, A., Cole, B., Ghelardini, M., Mayer, J., Kitchens, C., Nath, A., Powell, B.A., Mefford, O.T., 2018. The effect of post-synthesis aging on the ligand exchange activity of iron oxide nanoparticles. J. Colloid Interface Sci. 511, 374–382. doi:10.1016/j.jcis.2017.09.087

Mannion, J.M., Shick, C.R., Fugate, G.A., Powell, B.A., Husson, S.M., 2018. Anion-exchange polymer filament coating for ultra-trace isotopic analysis of plutonium by thermal ionization mass spectrometry. Talanta 189, 502–508. doi:10.1016/J.TALANTA.2018.07.048

Montgomery, D., Edayilam, N., Tharayil, N., Powell, B., Martinez, N., 2018. The Uptake and Translocation of 99Tc, 133Cs, 237Np, and 238U Into Andropogon Virginicus With Consideration of Plant Life Stage. Health Phys. 115, 550–560. doi:10.1097/HP.0000000000000848

Bliznyuk, V.N., Conroy, N.A., Xie, Y., Podila, R., Rao, A.M., Powell, B.A., 2018. Increase in the reduction potential of uranyl upon interaction with graphene oxide surfaces. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 20, 1752–1760. doi:10.1039/C7CP04197G

Edayilam, N., Montgomery, D., Ferguson, B., Maroli, A.S., Martinez, N., Powell, B.A., Tharayil, N., 2018. Phosphorus Stress-Induced Changes in Plant Root Exudation Could Potentially Facilitate Uranium Mobilization from Stable Mineral Forms. Environ. Sci. Technol. acs.est.7b05836. doi:10.1021/acs.est.7b05836

Erdmann, B.J., Powell, B.A., Kaplan, D.I., DeVol, T.A., 2018. One-dimensional Spatial Distributions of Gamma-ray Emitting Contaminants in Field Lysimeters Using a Collimated Gamma-ray Spectroscopy System. Health Phys. 114, 1. doi:10.1097/HP.0000000000000799

Pales, A.R., Li, B., Clifford, H.M., Kupis, S., Edayilam, N., Montgomery, D., Liang, W., Dogan, M., Tharayil, N., Martinez, N., Moysey, S., Powell, B., Darnault, C.J.G., 2018. Preferential flow systems amended with biogeochemical components: imaging of a two-dimensional study. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 22, 2487–2509. doi:10.5194/hess-22-2487-2018

Mannion, J.M., Shick, Jr., C.R., Fugate, G.A., Wellons, M.S., Powell, B.A., Husson, S.M., 2017. Rhenium filament oxidation: Effect on TIMS performance and the roles of carburization and humidity. Talanta 168, 183–187. doi:10.1016/j.talanta.2017.03.036

Mannion, J.M., Shick, C.R., Fugate, G.A., Powell, B.A., Husson, S.M., 2017. Anion-Exchange Fibers for Improved Sample Loading in Ultra-Trace Analysis of Plutonium by Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry. Anal. Chem. 89, 8638–8642. doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.7b01455

Mannion, J.M., Wellons, M.S., Shick, C.R., Fugate, G.A., Powell, B.A., Husson, S.M., 2017. Ambient aging of rhenium filaments used in thermal ionization mass spectrometry: Growth of oxo-rhenium crystallites and anti-aging strategies. Heliyon 3, e00232. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2017.e00232


Awards & Honors

Department of Energy, Early Career Research Program Award, 2013-2018

Sigma Xi Young Investigator of the Year, 2011

Best Poster Presentation Prize, 12th International Conference on the Chemistry and Migration Behavior of Actinides and Fission Products in the Geosphere, 2009

W. R. Heatley Jr. Annual Fellowship, Clemson University, 2004

R.C. Edwards Fellowship, Clemson University, 1999-2000

Dean’s Scholarship in Chemistry, University of Montevallo, 1995-1999