Eric Hoek Ph.D.

Hoek, Eric
Position Department / Business Unit
Assistant Professor Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Institution Disciplines
University of California
City State / Provence
Los Angeles California
Country Website
U.S.A. link
(310) 206-2222
My research group studies fundamental and applied aspects of aquatic colloidal and interfacial phenomena. A contemporary description of our research activities may be "Environmental Nanotechnology" where we consider both implications and applications of nanotechnology for the environment.

Environmental aspects of our research include understanding the stability, transport, and reactivity of natural colloids and engineered nanoparticles in aquatic environments. Technological aspects of our research include synthesis and characterization of engineered nanoparticles and polymeric membranes, as well as their application to water treatment, desalination, and monitoring.

This research relies on traditional colloid, polymer, and surface science analyses (light scattering, contact angle, electro-kinetic phenomena), as well as a number of microscopic (AFM/SEM/TEM) and spectroscopic (EDX/XRD/FTIR) methods to characterize natural colloids, engineered nanoparticles, synthesized membranes, and other functional materials. We also engage in modeling of transport and interfacial phenomena at macro, micro, and nano size scales using finite element and other modeling approaches.

A practical interest for many years has been understanding and mitigating surface fouling in aquatic systems. Surface fouling phenomena plague many practically important biological, environmental, and chemical engineering systems such as prosthesis, sensors, electrodes, membranes, ship hulls, and water pipes. Understanding and controlling surface fouling in these systems requires knowledge of aquatic chemistry, materials chemistry, colloidal and interfacial phenomena, transport and reaction processes, and system performance.

In our fouling studies, we have used classical particle aggregation, deposition, and filtration studies in combination with direct microscopic observation techniques to better understand mechanisms governing attachment and removal of microbial cells, inorganic colloids, and organic macromolecules on polymeric membranes. This fundamental research has led to the invention and development of a fouling resistant nanocomposite reverse osmosis membrane. We recently filed for US and international patents and founded a company to commercialize this new class of thin film nanocomposite membranes.

The broader impact of these scientific and engineering advances is to greatly enhance the technical and economic feasibility of desalination and water reuse, which are critical for draught protection and water sustainability in Southern California and beyond. In addition, the undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers who lead these projects are being trained as the next generation of water treatment, desalination, and nanotechnology experts.


B.S., Civil & Environmental Engineering Dept.; Penn State University (1995); Ph.D., Environmental Eng. Program; Chemical Eng. Dept.; Yale University (2002)


North American Membrane Society Annual Meeting Outstanding Student Paper Award (co-authored with Arun Subramani), 2005
North American Membrane Society Annual Meeting Outstanding Student Paper Award (co-authored with Sunny Wang), 2004
North American Membrane Society Annual Meeting Outstanding Student Paper Award (co-authored with Gaurav Agarwal), 2003
CH2M Hill/AEESP Doctoral Dissertation Award, 2002
Certificate of Merit Award at the 220th ACS National Meeting, 2001
Euromembrane 2000 Conference Fellowship, 2000
NAMS International Travel Fellowship, 2000
ACS Environmental Chemistry Division Graduate Student Award, 1999
Chi Epsilon (CE) National Civil Engineering Honor Society, 1994

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