Theresa Dankovich

Institution: Carnegie Mellon University


Theresa Dankovich is a CEINT Postdoctoral Research Associate in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA with Greg Lowry’s research group.  Theresa is part of the Life Cycle (LC) Nano network of researchers, whose overarching goal is to create predictive models of the unintended effects of consumer products containing nanotechnology in order to improve the design of such products. Her current research seeks to understand the release behavior and chemical transformation of nanoparticles embedded in consumer products through various stress tests, such as abrasion, UV irradiation, and harsh chemical exposure.  In addition, she is also investigating the end-of-life changes of polymer nanocomposites in incinerators and landfills. The hypothesis for this work is that the release of nanomaterials from polymer nanocomposites can be estimated if detailed information about the physicochemical characteristics of the polymer nanocomposite and the exposure conditions are known.  Future research goals include figuring out what environmental conditions result in failure of polymer and/or nanomaterials in polymeric nanocomposites, and to use these lab models to predict the behavior of other nanomaterials.

Prior to joining Carnegie Mellon University, Theresa primarily researched the application side of nanotechnology, which led to her interest in understanding the potential risks and hazards of using nanomaterials in consumer products. Her ongoing work in nanotechnology application is featured in the Drinkable Book, which is both an educational tool and a collection of antibacterial nano-silver paper filters for providing clean water.  This project is a partnership with the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) focused NGO WATERisLIFE and her nonprofit organization, pAge Drinking Paper.  pAge is dedicated to developing this new technology for the goal of  improving health in poor communities abroad. The project has focused on working with rural communities in Northern Ghana, Haiti, Kenya, and India with WATERisLIFE.


The Drinkable Book project originates from Theresa’s Ph.D. in Chemistry at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where she invented this bactericidal silver nanoparticle paper.  Additionally, she created a "green" method to produce the silver nanoparticles, using cheap and benign chemicals and processing, and showed that the resulting papers worked in the laboratory and in the field in Ghana with WATERisLIFE and South Africa, the latter being through her previous postdoctoral research position at the University of Virginia.

Research Interests

Applications of nanomaterials, metal nanoparticles, point-of-use water purification, sustainable technology, cellulose, polymers, antibacterial surfaces and materials, environmental and green chemistry, environmental applications of nanotechnology, appropriate technology.