Elizabeth Herndon

Elizabeth M. Herndon

Assistant Professor
Office Hours:
Monday 2 - 4 pm Tuesday 9 - 12 pm
Contact Information


I am an environmental geochemist interested in the interactions between minerals, water, and biota that shape the Critical Zone – the thin surface of the Earth’s crust from groundwater to canopy that supports life. In particular, my research focuses on human perturbation of the environment through changes in land use, contamination, and climate change. I’m interested in how these perturbations influence the transport of elements through watersheds, e.g. from air into soils, and from soils into vegetation and river systems.

In order to examine biogeochemical processes across multiple scales, my research incorporates a variety of methods such as field sampling, laboratory experiments, analytical techniques (both in-house and at national laboratories), and theoretical modeling. Recent projects include: 1) understanding the influence of warming on iron, carbon, and nutrient cycling in tundra soils, and 2) investigating metal biogeochemistry in coal mine waste and acid mine drainage.


Ph.D., Geosciences and Biogeochemistry, Pennsylvania State University, 2012, B.A., Earth & Planetary Sciences (magna cum laude), Washington University in Saint Louis, 2007, B.A., Chemistry: Biochemistry concentration, Washington University in Saint Louis, 2007


Biogeochemistry, water quality, Critical Zone Processes, Soils, soil, anthropogenic impacts, acid mine drainage


  • Shaw M.*, Singer D., and Herndon E. (2019, in review) Seasonal mixing from intermittent flow drives concentration-discharge behavior in a stream affected by coal mine drainage. Submitted to Hydrological Processes
  • Singer D., Herndon E., Cole K.*, Burkey M.*, Morrison S.*, Cahill M.*, Bartucci M. (2019, in revision) Micron-scale distribution controls metal(loid) release during simulated weathering of a Pennsylvanian coal shale. Submitted to Geochim. Cosmochim. Ac
  • Herndon E., Yarger, B.*, Frederick, H.*, and Singer, D. (2019) Iron and manganese biogeochemistry in forested coal mine spoil. Soil Systems 3(1), 13. https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems3010013
  • Herndon E., Kinsman-Costello L., Duroe K.*, Mills J.*, Kane E., Sebestyen S., Thompson A., and Wullschleger S. (2019) Iron (oxyhydr)oxides serve as phosphate traps in tundra and boreal peat soils. Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences.
  • Brantley S., White T., West N., Williams J., Forsythe B., Shapich D., Kaye J., Lin H., Shi Y., Kaye M., Herndon E., et al.,(2018) Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory:Shale Hills in the Context of Shaver’s Creek Watershed. Vadose Zone Journal
  • Sak P., Murphy M., Ma, L., Gaillardet J., Herndon E., et al.,(2018) From unweathered core to regolith in a single weathering andesitic clast: rates and trends of in situ chemical weathering on a tropical volcanic island (Basse Terre Terre Island, French G
  • Herndon E., Steinhoefel G., Dere ALD, and P. Sullivan (2018) Perennial flow through convergent hillslopes explains chemodynamic solute behavior in a shale headwater catchment. Chemical Geology 493, 413-425
  • Herndon EM, Havig JR, Singer DM, McCormick M, and LR Kump (2018) Manganese and iron geochemistry in sediments underlying the redox-stratified Fayetteville Green Lake. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 231, 50-63
  • Herndon EM, AlBashaireh AB*, Singer DM, Roy Chowdhury T, Gu B, Graham DE (2017) Influence of iron redox cycling on organo-mineral associations in Arctic tundra soil. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 207, 210-231
  • Chambers LG, Chin Y, Filippelli GM, Gardner CB, Herndon EM, et al., (2016) Developing the scientific framework for urban geochemistry. Applied Geochemistry 67, 1-20


American Geophysical Union, The Geochemical Society, European Association of Geochemistry, Geological Society of America (GSA)


  • Kent State University Outstanding New Faculty Research and Scholarship Award
  • Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow – 2019 U.S. symposium sponsored by National Academy of Sciences
  • National Science Foundation CAREER Award winner
  • Arnulf I. Muan Graduate Fellowship in Earth and Mineral Sciences, Penn State University
  • University Graduate Fellowship, Penn State University


Research Institutes and Initiatives

Environmental Science and Design Research Initiative