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Jessica Ray

Faculty Photo

Robert O. and Irene V. Sylvester Family Endowed Professorship in Water Resources
Civil & Environmental Engineering

Adjunct Assistant Professor
Chemical Engineering

Pronouns: She/her/hers


Dr. Jessica Ray (she/her/hers) is the Robert and Irene Sylvester assistant professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington. Ray joined the University of Washington in January 2019. Previously, Ray was a Miller Institute Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley investigating low-cost engineered adsorbents for removal of trace contaminants in urban stormwater. This research was part of the NSF Reinventing the Nation's Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt) engineering research center at Berkeley. Dr. Ray received her B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis in 2009. Upon graduation, Ray remained at Washington University in St. Louis to obtain a M.S. degree (2010, funded by the NSF GK-12 Graduate Research Fellowship) and a Ph.D. in Energy, Environmental Engineering & Chemical Engineering (2015, funded by the EPA Students to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowship). During her Ph.D., Ray employed surface chemistry techniques to investigate interfacial reactions of nanomaterials in water. At the University of Washington, Ray's research program utilizes a multidisciplinary platform that bridges materials science, and environmental and surface chemistry to increase urban water supply sustainability. 


  • Ph.D. in Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, 2015
  • M.S. in Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, 2010
  • B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, 2009

Previous appointments

  • Miller Institute for Basic Research, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Berkeley, 2015-2018

Research Statement

Ray is developing, characterizing and applying new composite materials for selective contaminant removal in water, for enhanced degradation of persistent contaminants, and for recovery of valuable species in waste streams. We explore structure-function relationships and survey physicochemical properties during synthesis and application of novel composites to understand their capabilities under conditions representative of real water sources and waste streams. Currently, our group is creating low-cost, engineered media to remove and/or degrade contaminants in urban stormwater. We are also generating functionalized composite materials to target and destroy persistent organic compounds such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Ray is committed to nurturing an inclusive, diverse and anti-racist environment within her research group and within the department. Ray served on the department Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion faculty committee from 2019 - 2021 and worked with colleagues to institute the first faculty diversity training. In 2020, Ray's group launched an anti-racism book club for group members to grow and learn together. So far, we have read books relating to environmental racism, race relations in contemporary America, and color-blind racism. Currently, Ray is collaborating with Black, Environmental Engineering assistant professors across multiple institutions to create a guidance framework for Environmental Engineering departments to support and retain Black faculty.

Select publications

  1. Fanny Okaikue-Woodie and Jessica R. Ray, “Synthesis of ferrate (Fe(VI))-coated sand for stabilized reactivity and enhanced treatment of phenol” Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2023, 11, 13552-13563, DOI:
  2. Yuemei Ye, Hojeong Bang, Vivian Jones, Kaylie Dennehy, Jessica M. Steigerwald and Jessica R. Ray, “H2O2-catalyzed defluorination of perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) by oxidized vanadium carbide MXene nanosheets” Journal of Materials Chemistry A,, 2023, 11, 16803-16814, DOI:
  3. Jessica M. Steigerwald, Shawnie Peng and Jessica R. Ray, “Novel perfluorooctanesulfonate-imprinted polymer immobilized on spent coffee grounds biochar for selective removal of perfluoroalkyl acids in synthetic wastewater” Environmental Science & Technology Engineering, 2023, 3, 4, 520-532, DOI:
  4. Katya Cherukumilli, Max Steiner and Jessica R. Ray, “Effective fluoride Removal using granular bauxite filter media as an affordable and sustainable alternative to activated alumina” Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, 2021,
  5. Jessica M. Steigerwald and Jessica R. Ray, “Adsorption behavior of perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) onto activated spent coffee grounds in synthetic wastewater effluent” Journal of Hazardous Materials Letters, 2021, 2, 100025-100032,
  6. Fanny Okaikue-Woodi, Katya Cherukumilli and Jessica R. Ray , “A critical review of contaminant removal by conventional and emerging media for urban stormwater treatment” Water Research, 2020 , 187, 116434-116455,
  7. Jessica R. Ray, Xuanhao Wu, Chelsea W. Neil, Haesung Jung, Zhichao Li and Young-shin Jun, “Redox Chemistry of CeO2 Nanoparticles in Aquatic Systems Containing Cr(VI)(aq) and Fe2+ Ions,” Environmental Science: Nano,2019, 6, 2269-2280.
  8. Jessica R. Ray, Itamar A. Shabtai, Marc Teixidó, Yael G. Mishael, and David L. Sedlak, “Polymer-Clay Composite Geomedia for Sorptive Removal of Trace Organic Compounds and Metals in Urban Stormwater,” Water Research, 2019, 157, 454-62.
  9. Jessica R. Ray, Whitney Wong, and Young-Shin Jun, “Antiscaling Efficiency of CaCO3 and CaSO4 on Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)-modified Reverse Osmosis Membranes in the Presence of Humic Acid: Interplay of Membrane Surface Properties and Water Chemistry,” Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2017, 19 (7), 5647-5657.
  10. Jessica R. Ray,† Sirimuvva Tadepalli,† Saide Z. Nergiz, Keng-Ku Liu, Le You, Yinjie Tang, Srikanth Singamaneni, and Young-Shin Jun, “Hydrophilic, Bactericidal Nanoheater-Enabled Reverse Osmosis Membranes to Improve Fouling Resistance,” ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2015, 7 (21), 11117-11126.
  11. Xuyang Liu,† Jessica R. Ray,† Chelsea W. Neil,† Qingyun Li, and Young-Shin Jun, “Enhanced Colloidal Stability of CeO2 Nanoparticles by Ferrous Ions: Adsorption, Redox Reaction, and Surface Precipitation,” Environmental Science & Technology, 2015, 49 (9), 5476-5483.
  12. Jessica R. Ray, Wei Wan, Benjamin Gilbert, and Young-Shin Jun, “Effects of Formation Conditions on the Physicochemical Properties, Aggregation, and Phase Transformation of Iron Oxide Nanoparticles,” Langmuir, 2013, 29 (4), 1069-1076.
  13. Jessica R. Ray, Byeongdu Lee, Jonas Baltrusaitis, and Young-Shin Jun, “Formation of Iron(III) Hydroxides on Polyaspartate- and Alginate-Coated SiO2: Effects of Substrate Hydrophilicity and Functional Groups at the Surface,” Environmental Science & Technology, 2012, 46 (24), 13167-13175.

Honors & awards

  • Civil and Environmental Engineering Faculty Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award, 2021
  • College of Engineering Rogel Faculty Support Award, 2020
  • Chemical & Engineering News Class of 2020 Talented 12, 2020
  • Royalty Research Fund: University of Washington, 2019
  • Miller Institute for Basic Research Postdoctoral Fellowship: University of California Berkeley, 2015
  • EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Graduate Fellowship: Environmental Protection Agency, 2012
  • GK-12 Fellowship: National Science Foundation, 2009