AI-generated art by Matt Lundquist
TitleChair of the Department of Natural Sciences
Professor of Chemistry
Alessandra Leri is Chair of the Department of Natural Sciences. She teaches courses in organic chemistry, general chemistry, and environmental science. Prof. Leri’s research interests include organic geochemistry, urban environmental science, and chemical education. Her work in organic geochemistry has helped to overturn the long-established paradigm of halogens as unreactive inorganic elements in terrestrial and marine environments.
Prof. Leri’s research group, composed entirely of MMC undergraduates, is actively working on a variety of projects, including bacterial analysis of the built environment in NYC, geochemistry of peat cores (which are important global reservoirs of carbon), and chemical composition of recyclable plastics. She has brought many students to the synchrotron facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island for experimental “beamtimes.” Her students have presented their results at various undergraduate research symposia and earned an impressive list of accolades.
Ph.D., Chemistry, Princeton University (NSF Graduate Research Fellow)
M.A., Italian, University of Virginia
B.S., Chemistry, magna cum laude, College of William and Mary
* denotes MMC undergraduate co-author
- A. Leri and M. Khan* (2023). Faecal indicator bacteria on indoor floors linked to exterior sidewalk contamination in New York City. Indoor and Built Environment. Media coverage: CBS News, Fox 5 New York, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Inside Edition, Telemundo/NBC Universal, RTVI, Gothamist, Daily Mail, New York Post, The Guardian, Smithsonian Magazine, La Nacion, El Espectador, Der Spiegel, Het Nieuwsblad, Yahoo Actualités, Scrolla Africa, The Straits Times, Phys.org, IFL Science, WNYC-The Brian Lehrer Show, Upper East Site, SI Live.
- A. Leri and A. Pavia* (2022). Analysis of plastic waste for sorting in recycling plants: An inquiry-based FTIR spectroscopy experiment for the organic chemistry laboratory. Journal of Chemical Education 99, 1008.
- R. Jones, S. Nicholas, P. Northrup, B. Bostick, C. Hoffman, W. Hu, P. Lam, A. Leri, B. Toner, and B. Twining (2022). Characterization and speciation of marine materials using synchrotron probes: Guidelines for new users. Oceanography 35, 49.
- A. Leri (2021). A remote undergraduate biology seminar on SARS‐CoV‐2 literature. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education 49, 313.
- E. Kamen* and A. Leri (2019). Promoting STEM persistence through an innovative field trip-based first-year experience course. Journal of College Science Teaching 49, 24.
- A. Leri, M. Dunigan*, R. Wenrich*, and B. Ravel (2019). Particulate organohalogens in edible brown seaweeds. Food Chemistry 272, 126.
- A. Barber, J. Brandes, A. Leri, K. Lalonde, K. Balind, S. Wirick, J. Wang, Y. Gélinas (2017). Preservation of organic matter in marine sediments by inner-sphere interactions with reactive iron. Scientific Reports 7, 366.
- P. Northrup, A. Leri, and R. Tappero (2016). Applications of “tender” energy (1-5 keV) X-ray absorption spectroscopy in life sciences. Protein and Peptide Letters 23, 300.
- A. Leri and B. Ravel (2015). Abiotic bromination of soil organic matter. Environmental Science and Technology 49, 13350.
- A. Leri, L. Mayer, K. Thornton, P. Northrup, M. Dunigan*, K. Ness*, and A. Gellis* (2015). A marine sink for chlorine in natural organic matter. Nature Geoscience 8, 620.
- A. Leri, L. Mayer, K. Thornton, and B. Ravel (2014). Bromination of marine particulate organic matter through oxidative mechanisms. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 142, 53.
- A. Leri and B. Ravel (2014). Sample thickness and quantitative concentration measurements in Br K-edge XANES spectroscopy of organic materials. Journal of Synchrotron Radiation 21, 623.
- A. Leri and L. Anthony* (2013). Formation of organochlorine by-products in bleached laundry. Chemosphere 90, 2041.
General Chemistry I-II and associated labs
Organic Chemistry I-II and associated labs
Chemistry and the Environment
Energy and Climate Change
Environmental Science with an Ethical Perspective
New York City: The Urban Ecosystem (freshman seminar)
Journals: Biogeosciences, Chemosphere, Continental Shelf Research, Environmental Science and Technology, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Journal of Chemical Education, Science of the Total Environment
Funding Agencies: Department of Energy-Biological and Environmental Research, National Science Foundation
Synchrotron Facilities: Canadian Light Source, Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Light Source
Recent Service to MMC
- Chair, Department of Natural Sciences, 2022-present
- Coordinator, Environmental Studies Program, 2014-present
- Departmental Website Coordinator, 2013-present
- Liaison to the Environmental Consortium of Colleges and Universities, 2015-present
- Member, Academic Standing Committee, 2010-2022
- Member, Barry Commoner Lecture Series Committee, 2010-present
- Member, Committee on Promotion and Tenure, 2016-2018, 2019-2020
- Member, Honors Day Committee, 2016-2018
- Faculty Advisor, Science Society, 2008-2011, 2014-2015, 2020-present