Department Environmental Chemistry

Environmental Fate Modeling

The research group Environmental Fate Modeling investigates microbial biotransformation in natural and engineered systems relevant for water quality. Our aim is to develop predictive models for use in contemporary chemical risk assessment. We combine experimental work and data mining to develop novel tools for the prediction of stable transformation products and chemical persistence.

In our experimental work, we investigate the biotransformation of structurally diverse micropollutants in natural communities. We determine rates and products of biotransformation using modern analytical methods and simultaneously characterize the microbial communities in terms of their active functions using molecular biology tools. In our data-driven work, we collect and curate existing biotransformation data ( We then apply methods from Bayesian statistics and cheminformatics to the data to develop improved algorithms for predicting transformation products and biotransformation half-lives in different environmental settings.

External collaborator

Latest publications

Johnson, D. R.; Helbling, D. E.; Men, Y.; Fenner, K. (2015) Can meta-omics help to establish causality between contaminant biotransformations and genes or gene products?, Environmental Science: Water Research and Technology, 1(3), 272-278, doi:10.1039/c5ew00016e, Institutional Repository
Helbling, D. E.; Johnson, D. R.; Lee, T. K.; Scheidegger, A.; Fenner, K. (2015) A framework for establishing predictive relationships between specific bacterial 16S rRNA sequence abundances and biotransformation rates, Water Research, 70, 471-484, doi:10.1016/j.watres.2014.12.013, Institutional Repository
Johnson, D. R.; Helbling, D. E.; Lee, T. K.; Park, J.; Fenner, K.; Kohler, H.-P. E.; Ackermann, M. (2015) Association of biodiversity with the rates of micropollutant biotransformations among full-scale wastewater treatment plant communities, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 81(2), 666-675, doi:10.1128/AEM.03286-14, Institutional Repository
Gulde, R.; Helbling, D. E.; Scheidegger, A.; Fenner, K. (2014) pH-dependent biotransformation of ionizable organic micropollutants in activated sludge, Environmental Science and Technology, 48(23), 13760-13768, doi:10.1021/es5037139, Institutional Repository
Honti, M.; Fenner, K. (2015) Deriving persistence indicators from regulatory water-sediment studies - opportunities and limitations in OECD 308 data, Environmental Science and Technology, 49(10), 5879-5886, doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b00788, Institutional Repository


Prof. Dr. Kathrin FennerSenior scientist/group leaderTel. +41 58 765 5085Send Mail


Dr. Annie ChalifourPostdoctoral scientistTel. +41 58 765 6733Send Mail
Dr. Cresten MansfeldtTel. +41 58 765 6452Send Mail

PhD students

Stefan AchermannPhD studentTel. +41 58 765 6845Send Mail
Sabine AnlikerTel. +41 58 765 5745Send Mail
Werner DesiantePhD studentTel. +41 58 765 5603Send Mail

Academic guest
University Newcastle

Dr. Paola MeynetTel. +41 58 765 5519Send Mail

Ongoing projects

Predicting environment-specific biotransformation of chemical contaminants