Faculty Spotlight - Seed Grant Recipient Howard Fairbrother, PhD


Before coming to Johns Hopkins, Howard Fairbrother, PhD, earned his PhD in chemistry from Northwestern University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Fairbrother arrived at Hopkins in 1997 as an assistant professor and is currently a professor in the Department of Chemistry in the Kreiger School of Arts and Sciences with a joint appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. A surface chemist by training, Dr. Fairbrother has worked on a number of applied, collaborative projects during his time at Hopkins, most frequently within the Department of Environmental Engineering.  

Dr. Fairbrother was recently awarded a Johns Hopkins Water Institute Seed Grant for his work that seeks to improve advanced water treatment capabilities. The project involves creating metallic nanoparticles through chemical vapor deposition that could then be added to carbon-based membranes to remove contaminants and pollutants from water. The project is an interface between environmental engineering, chemistry, and materials science. After the construction of the particles and their addition to membranes, the team must analyze and test the efficacy of the materials with the specific nanoparticles. The project is aimed at improving technology to remove particles that tend to be more difficult to remove via traditional water treatment methods.

Dr. Fairbrother will be working with James Spicer, PhD, a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Dr. Spicer’s expertise allows him to deposit the metal nanoparticles inside the carbon membranes.  While, Dr. Fairbrother has worked on a number of collaborative projects with environmental engineers, this project will be his first collaboration with the Materials Science Department. Dr. Fairbrother believes that engaging materials scientists with environmental projects is an especially significant area with the potential for big breakthroughs in scientific technology. 


Howard Fairbrother, advanced water treatment