Thomas Borch

Thomas Borch

Dept. Soil & Crop Sciences
Dept. Civ. and Environmental Engineering
Dept. of Chemistry


C017 Plant Sciences Building
Office (970) 491-6235
Lab (970) 491-2718
Fax (970) 491-5676


After completing my graduate (M.Sc.) work with Drs. Bo Svensmark and Christian Grøn in the Chemistry Department at the University of Copenhagen, I began my doctoral studies (Ph.D.) under the direction of Dr. William P. Inskeep at Montana State University in affiliation with the Center for Biofilm Engineering. Following my graduate studies, I began a Postdoctoral Scientist position in the Soil and Environmental Biogeochemistry group at Stanford University with Dr. Scott Fendorf. I spent four great years in Montana and two remarkable years at Stanford University (2000-2005) and could not have asked for more enjoyable work environments. The opportunity to join the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Colorado State University was compelling. So, in August of 2005 I joined the faculty here to initiate a program in Environmental Water and Soil Chemistry.

Research Focus

My research is directed at 1) determining reactions influencing the fate of contaminants, nutrients, and organic carbon in water, soil and plants, and 2) treatment and reuse of agricultural and produced water for irrigation of crops. In addressing these topics, one must consider the complete system rather than solely a simplified fraction of the environment. However, due to the extreme heterogeneity of water, soil and plants, identifying key-reactions influencing the (bio)degradation, (bio)reduction, and (bio) availability my research focuses on both simplified systems, often composed of a single mineral and solution reactant, and natural soil/water & agricultural systems. I use a multitude of traditional analytical methods in combination with various chromatographic (e.g. GC, HPLC and IC), spectroscopic (e.g. FTIR, XPS), and microscopic (e.g. SEM, TEM and AFM) methods, including state-of-the-art techniques such as synchrotron radiation-based X-ray techniques and Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS), to elucidate (bio)degradation products, chemical states of trace elements, structural states of minerals, plant uptake of contaminants, and the fate of water contaminants in environmental and agricultural settings. The ability to identify organic metabolites, the chemical state of trace elements and potential “host” mineral-phases is essential for ascertaining the health risk associated with, for instance, reuse of treated industrial/agricultural water for crop irrigation.

Research Interests

  • Sustainable Agricultural Water
  • Water Reuse in Agriculture
  • -mpact of Irrigation Water Quality on Soil and Plant Health
  • Treatment and Reuse of Produced Water for Crop Irrigation
  • Chemical and Toxicological Characterization of Agricultural and Industrial Water
  • Alternative Water Sources for Agriculture
  • Sensor Development for Agricultural and Environmental Monitoring

Previous Institutions

B.S., 1997, University of Copenhagen
Environmental Chemistry

M.S., 1999, University of Copenhagen
Environmental Chemistry

Ph.D., 2003, Montana State University
Environmental Soil Chemistry

Postdoctoral Fellowship – 2004-2006
Stanford University
Soil and Environmental Biogeochemistry