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Kenneth M. Kemner

Senior Physicist, Group Leader

Ken Kemner is the originator and leader of the Molecular Environmental Science Group.


Ken Kemner is the originator and leader of the Molecular Environmental Science Group, an integrated multidisciplinary research group that makes use of synchrotron radiation and lab-based environmental chemistry and biology approaches for biogeochemical research, with a subsequent focus on the incorporation of pyrosequencing and bioinformatics tools for metabolic and microbial community analysis.

Ken is an expert in the application of synchrotron x-ray radiation to address questions in biogeochemistry and environmental science, with an emphasis on coupled biotic-abiotic interactions and the role of the microbe-mineral microenvironment in effecting the transformations of contaminant metals and radionuclides.

Ken also created the Synchrotron Environmental Science (SES) Conference Series, a biannual conference held at one of the synchrotrons in North America to promote the integration of synchrotron-based approaches into Environmental Science. He has published over 120 papers on synchrotron science, biogeochemistry, and environmental remediation.

Ken is an adjunct faculty member of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences at the University of Notre Dame.


Ph.D., Physics, University of Notre Dame; 1993

Awards, Honors and Memberships

  • National Research Council Fellow
  • Department of Energy, Office of Science Early Career Award
  • Presidential Early Career Award
  • International Union of Crystallography Young Scientist Award

Selected Publications

  • K. M. Kemner, J. Kropf, and B. A. Bunker,” A low-temperature total electron yield detector for x-ray absorption fine structure spectra,” Rev. Sci. Instr., 65 (12) 3667, 1994.
  • X. Feng, G. E. Fyxell, L. -Q. Wang, A. Y. Kim, J. Liu, K. M. Kemner, Self-Assembled Monolayers on Ordered Mesoporous Supports (SAMMS),” Science 276 923-926, 1997.
  • K. M. Kemner, W. Yun, Z. Cai, B. Lai, H. -R. Lee, J. Maser, D. G. Legnini, W. Rodrigues, J. Jastrow, R. M. Miller, S. T. Pratt, M. A. Schneegurt, C. F. Kulpa, Jr., Using zone plates for X-ray microimaging and microspectroscopy in environmental science,” J. Synchrotron Rad. 6, 639-641, 1999.
  • M. Labrenz, G. K. Druschel, T. Thomsen-Ebert, B. Gilbert, S. A. Welch, K. M. Kemner, G. A. Logan, R. E. Summons, G. De Stasio, P. L. Bond, B. Lai, S. D. Kelly, J. F. Banfield, Sphalerite (ZnS) deposits forming in natural biofilms of sulfate reducing bacteria,” Science 290 1744-1747, 2000.
  • Y. Suzuki, S. D. Kelly, K. M. Kemner, J. F. Banfield, Nanometer-size products of uranium bioreduction,” Nature 419 134, 2002.
  • E. J. O’Loughlin, S.D. Kelly, R.E. Cook, R. Csencsits, and K.M. Kemner, Reduction of uranium(VI) by mixed Fe(II)/Fe(III) hydroxide (green rust): Formation of UO2 nanoparticles,” Environ. Sci. Technol. 37 721-727, 2003.
  • K. M. Kemner, S. D. Kelly, B. Lai, J. Maser, E. J. O’Loughlin, D. Sholto-Douglas, Z. Cai, M. A. Schneegurt, C. F. Kulpa, Jr., K. H. Nealson, Elemental and Redox Analysis of Single Bacterial Cells by X-ray Microbeam Analysis,” SCIENCE, 306 686-687, 2004.
  • K. M. Kemner, E. J. O’Loughlin, S. D. Kelly, M. I. Boyanov, Synchrotron x-ray investigations of mineral-microbe-metal interactions,” Elements August, 2005, pg. 217-221.
  • K. M. Kemner and S. D. Kelly, Synchrotron-based Techniques for Monitoring Metal Tranformations,” Manual of Environmental Microbiology, Third Edition (2007), Editor in chief: Christon J. Hurst, ASM Press, 1183-1194.
  • K. M. Kemner, Hard x-ray micro(spectro)scopy: A powerful tool for the geomicrobiologist,” Geobiology, doi: 10.1111/j.1472-4669.2008.00145.x.