DURHAM, N.C. – Six Nicholas School of the Environment faculty have been named to the 2021 list of the world’s Most Highly Cited Researchers.

Emily Bernhardt, Ram Oren, Drew Shindell, Heather Stapleton, Avner Vengosh and Mark Wiesner were named to the list based on the number of highly cited papers they produced over an 11-year period from January 2010 to December 2020.

Citation rate, as tracked by Clarivate’s Web of Science, is a measure of a study’s importance and, by extension, a researcher’s eminence in their field.

Being included in the Most Highly Cited list signifies that a researcher has published multiple papers that rank in top 1% of all papers in their field by citation rate.

Having six faculty on the list underscores the Nicholas School’s reputation as a global leader in environmental research, said Toddi Steelman, Stanback Dean of the Nicholas School. Being cited for work in six disciplines—climate science, water geochemistry, ecology, environmental chemistry, earth systems science and environmental engineering—speaks to the breadth of the school’s expertise, she said.

Bernhardt is James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Biogeochemistry. Her research explores how rivers and other aquatic ecosystems are being altered by land-use change (urbanization, agriculture, mountaintop mining), global change (rising sea levels and rising carbon dioxide) and chemical pollution.

Oren is Nicholas Distinguished Professor of Earth System Science. He studies water and carbon cycles in forest ecosystems and how forest ecosystems from the equator to the Arctic Circle respond to environmental and management changes. 

Shindell is Nicholas Distinguished Professor of Earth Science. A co-lead author of the 2018 IPCC Special Report on Climate Change, his research focuses on the social costs of climate change and the health and economic benefits of cutting fossil fuel emissions to a point that Earth’s atmosphere doesn’t warm more than 2°C.

Stapleton is Ronie-Richele Garcia-Johnson Distinguished Professor of environmental chemistry. Her work is at the forefront in the fields of exposure science and exposomics and has shed light on the environmental and human health risks posed by flame retardant chemicals, PFAS pollution and other contaminants found in the natural and indoor environments.

Vengosh is Distinguished Professor of Environmental Quality. His work has led to the development of forensic tracers that can identify the isotopic “fingerprint” of a contaminant and trace it to its natural or human source. Much of his work focuses on the water-quality and human health impacts associated with contaminants from the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels.    

Wiesner is James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He studies the environmental impacts of nanomaterials; membrane science; water treatment and desalination; and particle transport and surface chemistry in natural and engineered environments.

Adjunct professor Robert B. Jackson was also named to the 2020 Most Highly Cited list. Jackson was formerly a faculty member at the Nicholas School. He is now the Michelle and Kevin Douglas Provostial Professor and Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment.