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Murray McBride

Murray McBride


910 Bradfield Hall
(607) 255-1728

My long-term interests focus on understanding the behavior of contaminants at the soil-water interface in the environment, with particular emphasis on the phytotoxic and zootoxic trace and heavy metals. In order to understand adsorption and degradation processes mechanistically, I use numerous methods such as spectroscopy to investigate speciation and bonding of metal ions and organic molecules at surfaces and in soil solution. I have interest in the issue of soil health, as it is impacted by the contamination of soils by various waste materials, commercial fertilizers and manures.

Research Focus

The focus of my research at present is the bioavailability of toxic and trace metals in soils to crops, animals, and humans, considering all of the properties of soils that modify this bioavailability. Ultimately, this research has several goals, protecting food crops from toxic metal contaminants, minimizing trace element deficiencies, and developing methods for testing and remediating contaminated soils.

Outreach and Extension Focus

As part of my outreach activities, I am involved in working with extension staff at Cornell in developing guidelines and publications on the management of toxic metals that may be found at elevated concentrations in some farm and garden soils. Practical methods of remediating contaminated soils are being investigated, and recommendations are being conveyed to growers based on these findings. Improved methods of testing contaminated soils for toxic metals such as lead, zinc, cadmium, arsenic and copper, and interpreting these tests, is also a focus of my outreach effort. The goal is to provide farmers and gardeners with science-based information to minimize their exposure to toxic metals and other contaminants in soils as well as improve crop quality.

Teaching Focus

My teaching attempts to explain to students the chemical processes that go on the complex environment of soils by using simple physical chemical principles.
I teach an undergraduate course in Environmental Chemistry, which covers important environmental topics in soils, the atmosphere, and the hydrosphere. This course uses case studies of pollution in the biosphere and considers the potential effects on soil, plant, animal and human health. Because new environmental issues are emerging every year as more is learned, lectures evolve in response to this dynamic situation.
I also teach an advanced soil chemistry course, intended primarily for graduate students with a strong background in physical chemistry. This course covers the basic chemistry of clay mineralogy, soil organic matter, soil acidity, cation exchange, chemisorption of metal cations and oxyanions, redox processes and soil salinity.

Selected Publications

Journal Publications