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Dr. Nasim Pica


Contact Info




I am an international engineer with a BS in Civil Engineering and MS in Environmental Science from the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran. After graduating from Sharif University, I worked as an environmental engineer-process engineer for a consulting company in Tehran. There, I designed various treatment processes for domestic and industrial wastewater. After about two years, I decided to pursue my childhood dream, becoming a scientist, and I moved to USA, Colorado to pursue my PhD in environmental engineering at CSU.

Project Summary

Current project

We are trying to develop a method for mercury detection at ultra-low concentrations in human species including blood and urine, using ICP-MS.

Previous studies

Alternative to fresh water resources
My experience has taught me that curiosity, passion, engagement, and commitment are key driving forces behind a successful researcher. These characteristics plus being open-minded to work in a multi-disciplinary team of engineers and chemists, provided me the opportunity to choose the direction of my postdoc research and focus on sustainability. During my short postdoctoral, I worked on an NSF funded project in a collaboration with the CSU College of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). I led a team of 12 students to investigate the impacts of flowback and produced water reuse on two non-food biofuel crops. In this study we evaluated the impacts of four different qualities of produced water vs. control water on agricultural soil, plant health and physiological parameters of switchgrass and canola species. In the greenhouse phase we measured the physiological characteristics of the crops over 14 months. In the growth chamber phase we studied the germination rate of the seeds through a 21 day blotter test. This study provides the first insight to the impacts of produced water on crops the results of which have been submitted for publication and are currently under review.
Produced water management
During my PhD, I investigated different aspects of the energy-water nexus and environmental implications of energy extraction including water issues associated with hydraulic fracturing. I examined the treatability of produced water (oil and gas wastewater) via conventional and advanced treatment processes including biological, chemical and electrocoagulation, oxidation, GAC and bentonite column studies, UF, and RO systems. I optimized the treatment for specific cations and anions using chemical modeling software that utilizes a predictive thermodynamic framework for calculating the physical and chemical properties of multi-phase, aqueous-based systems. I studied alternatives to fresh water resources including the reuse of produced water and saline water recycling. I also conducted the first set of academic studies on the feasibility of produced water reuse and recycling by studying the polymer and crosslinker interactions with organic matter residues from gelled frac and the influence of organic matter, salts, metals, and non-metals on frac fluid stability. As a result of my PhD studies, I have six published papers, all first author. My first paper on produced water treatment has been cited 16 times since late spring 2015.
Biological treatment
As a research assistant in Sharif university of Technology, I worked on three different projects related to groundwater denitrification, phenol and ethylene glycol removals. During my master’s studies, I cultivated specific types of ethylene glycol-degrading bacteria to optimize the removal of ethylene glycol in a microbiological system. There I learned the role of microbes in biological transformation and speciation of different elements. Through this experience I realized we as researchers in environmental engineering have the opportunity to actively engage with variety of interesting subjects.

For more details about the research conducted in the Borch group please click here.

Recent Publications

Please check here about my publications.

For more publications in the Borch group please click here.


I have worked on several multidisciplinary research projects funded by industry collaborators such as Halliburton, and Noble Energy, and National science foundation, and USDA. I have collaborated with diverse range of scientists and engineers from Chemistry, College of Agriculture, Environmental engineering, and would like to extend my collaboration.

Previous Institutions

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering-Colorado State University

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering- Sharif University of Technology

Department of Civil Engineering- International University of Imam

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