Area(s) of Expertise
- Inorganic/Materials Chemistry
Prof. Davies leads the Humic Acids Research Group that is studying the isolation, properties and structures of humic acids (HAs), the brown biomolecules responsible for water retention, metal binding and solute adsorption in soils and sediments. HAs in the earth contain more carbon than in all living things. HAs stick to clays and minerals, which prevents them from being washed away.
Prof. Davies’ group has developed techniques for the preparation of standard samples of humic acids from many sources, as well as characterization techniques. They were the first to isolate HAs from a live plant. Their work indicates that HAs isolated from different sources have similar metal binding sites and molecular structures. Under study to provide an understanding of HAs environmental roles are immobilization of HAs by attachment to clays and minerals for bioremediation applications and the effects of bound metals on HAs adsorptive properties. Better understanding of the structure and properties of HAs informs proper agriculture, soil creation, maintenance and remediation practices. The Humic Acid Research Group hosts the annual international Humic Science & Technology Conferences at Northeastern (see www.hagroup.neu.edu) and is measuring the HA contents of agricultural top soils from all 50 US States in the National Soil Project.