Brian Teppen

Professor -Soil chemistry, molecular simulation, atomic-scale mechanisms, thermodynamics, kinetics of sorption reactions at mineral surfaces.

Brian Teppen


Plant and Soil Sciences Building
1066 Bogue St, Room 538
East Lansing, MI 48824

Phone: (517) 353-0481


B.Sc. in Agronomy, University of Arkansas
Ph.D. in Soil Chemistry, University of Arkansas


Research Interests:

  • Surface structures of environmentally relevant colloidal materials
  • Adsorption mechanisms for gaseous and solution species interacting with solid phases in soils and sediments; implications for geochemical transport and fate
  • Anthropogenic modification of natural surfaces to optimize adsorbent behavior


Current Research Areas:

In building an understanding of molecular behavior within environmental systems, emerging technologies in condensed-phase molecular modeling are proving useful for:

a) constraining the interpretations of spectroscopic and diffraction data,
b) stimulating new hypotheses and new approaches to experimentation, and
c) performing truly predictive simulations of properties not amenable to experiment. 

Molecular modeling tools have traditionally been tailored toward proteins and other biochemical organic systems, but I have worked toward expanding their application to environmentally relevant systems such as soil minerals and aqueous species at colloid-solution interfaces.  My research has focused on the development, validation, and application of both classical- and quantum-physics molecular models for aqueous solutions, chemical contaminants, and the colloidal materials that control adsorption and chemical speciation in soils, sediments, and groundwaters.  I have been a member of diverse teams (physical chemists, experimental soil chemists, geophysicists, mineralogists, and environmental engineers) that test and validate such models, then apply them to simulations of practical systems. A strength of our developmental work is frequent validation of our models using diverse spectroscopic, diffraction, and thermodynamic data. My goals are to develop robust models for the most important environmental colloids and to use the models to accurately predict a greater variety of kinetic and thermodynamic information.



Aggarwal, V., H. Li, and B.J. Teppen. 2006. Triazine adsorption by saponite and beidellite clay minerals. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 25:392-399.

Teppen, B.J. and D.M. Miller. 2006. Hydration energy determines isovalent cation exchange selectivity by clay minerals. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 70:31-40.

Aggarwal, V., H. Li., S.A. Boyd, and B.J. Teppen. 2006. Sorption of trichloroethene by saponite clay.  Environ. Sci. Technol. 40:894-899 (published on the web 22 Dec. 2005).

Arroyo, L.J., C.T. Johnston, H. Li, B.J. Teppen, and S.A. Boyd. 2005. Oxidation of 1-naphthol coupled to reduction of structural Fe3+ in smectite. Clays and Clay Minerals 53:587-596.

de Oliveira, M.F., C.T. Johnston, G.S. Premachandra, B.J. Teppen, H. Li, D.A. Laird, D. Zhu, and S.A. Boyd. 2005. Spectroscopic study of carbaryl sorption on smectite from aqueous suspension. Environ. Sci. Technol. 39:9123-9129.

Arroyo, L.J., H. Li, B.J. Teppen, and S.A. Boyd. 2005. A simple purification method for reference clays. Clays Clay Miner. 53:511-519.

Chappell, M.A., D.A. Laird, M.L. Thompson, H. Li, B.J. Teppen, V. Aggarwal, C.T. Johnston, and S.A. Boyd. 2005. Influence of smectite hydration and swelling on atrazine sorption affinity. Environ. Sci. Technol. 39:3150-3156.

Li, H., B.J. Teppen, D.A. Laird, C.T. Johnston, and S.A. Boyd. 2004. Geochemical modulation of pesticide sorption on smectite clay. Environ. Sci. Technol. 38:5393-5399.

Li, H., B.J. Teppen, C.T. Johnston, and S.A. Boyd. 2004. Thermodynamics of nitroaromatic compound adsorption from water by smectite clay. Environ. Sci. Technol. 38:5433-5442.

Arroyo, L.J., H. Li, B.J. Teppen, C.T. Johnston, and S.A. Boyd. 2004. Hydrolysis of carbaryl by carbonate impurities in reference clay SWy-2. J. Agric. Food Chem. 52:8066-8073.

Johnston, C.T., S.A. Boyd, B.J. Teppen, and G. Sheng. 2004. Sorption of nitroaromatic compounds on clay surfaces. pp. 155-189 In S.M. Auerbach, K.A. Carrado, and P.K. Dutta (ed.) Handbook of Layered Materials, Marcel Dekker Inc., NY.

Li, H., G. Sheng, B. J. Teppen, C. T. Johnston and S.A. Boyd. 2003. Sorption and Desorption of Pesticides by Clay Minerals and Humic Acid-Clay Complexes. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J.  67:122-131.

Teppen, B.J., C.-H. Yu, S.Q. Newton, D.M. Miller, and L. Schäfer. 2002. Quantum molecular dynamics simulations regarding the dechlorination of trichloroethene in the interlayer space of the 2:1 clay mineral nontronite. J. Phys. Chem. A 106:5498-5503.

Johnston, C.T., G. Sheng, B.J. Teppen, S.A. Boyd, and M.F. De Oliveira. 2002. Spectroscopic Study of Dinitrophenol Herbicide Sorption on Smectite, Environ. Sci. Technol. 36:5067-5074.

Sheng, G., C.T. Johnston, B.J. Teppen, and S.A Boyd. 2002. Adsorption of dinitrophenol herbicides from water by montmorillonites. Clays Clay Miner. 50:25-34.

Yu, C.-H., S.Q. Newton, D.M. Miller, B.J. Teppen, and L. Schäfer. 2001. Ab initio study of the nonequivalence of adsorption of D- and L-peptides on clay mineral surfaces. Structural Chemistry, 12:393-398.

Boyd, S.A., G. Sheng, B.J. Teppen, and C.T. Johnston. 2001. Mechanisms for the Adsorption of Substituted Nitrobenzenes by Smectite Clays. Environ. Sci. Technol. 35:4227-4234.

Sheng, G., C.T. Johnston, B.J. Teppen, and S.A. Boyd. 2001. Potential Contributions of Smectite Clays and Organic Matter to Pesticide Retention in Soils. J. Agric. Food Chem. 49:2899-2907.

Jacobs, L.W., and B.J. Teppen. 2001. Alum WTR as an amendment for phosphorus-enriched soils. 14 p. In Proceedings of 15th Annual Residuals and Biosolids Management Conference, Feb. 21-24, San Diego, CA. CD-ROM Publication, Water Environment Federation, Alexandria, VA.

Miller, D.M., B.J. Teppen, C.-H. Yu, and L. Schäfer. 2001. Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Adsorption Processes at the Clay Mineral/Aqueous Solution Interface. p. 257-280. In Selim, H. M., Sparks, D. L. (Eds.) Physical and Chemical Processes of Water and Solute Transport/ Retention in Soils. SSSA Special Publication no. 56. Soil Science Society of America: Madison, WI.

Yu, C.-H.; Norman, M.A.; Newton, S.Q.; Miller, D.M.; Teppen, B.J.; Schäfer, L. 2000. Molecular dynamics simulations of the adsorption of proteins on clay mineral surfaces J. Mol. Struct. 556:95-103.

Yu, C.-H., S.Q. Newton, D.M. Miller, L. Schäfer, and B.J. Teppen. 2000. Molecular dynamics simulations of the adsorption of methylene blue at clay mineral surfaces. Clays and Clay Minerals 48:665-681.

Masion, A.; Vilgé-Ritter, A.; Rose, J.; Stone, W.E.E.; Teppen, B.J.; Rybacki, D.; Bottero, J.-Y. 2000. Coagulation-flocculation of natural organic matter with Al salts: Speciation and structure of the aggregates. Environ. Sci. Technol. 34:3242-3246. 

Grants Awarded:

National competitive grants

Boyd, S.A., Johnston, C.T., H. Li, T.J. Pinnavaia, and B.J. Teppen, “Geochemical Controls on the Adsorption, Bioavailability, and Long-term Environmental Fate of Dioxins, PCBs, and PAHs,” National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences ‘Superfund Basic Research Program,’ for five years during 01 April 2006 through 31 March 2011.  This was one of seven projects in a larger, coordinated grant.

Boyd, S.A., B.J. Teppen, and C.L. Rugh. “Geochemical Controls on Bioavailability and Toxicity of Energetics during Bioremediation,” NSF-EPA Partnership for Environmental Research: New Technologies for the Environment, for two years of exploratory research, 12/2005-11/2007, NSF Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Systems grant BES-0329374.

Teppen, B.J., S.A. Boyd, C.T. Johnston, D.A. Laird, and H. Li. “Mechanisms and forces controlling pesticide retention by soil clay minerals,” U.S. Department of Agriculture National Research Initiative Grant 2005-35107-15237, for three years during 11/2004-11/2007.

Teppen, B.J., S.A. Boyd, C.T. Johnston, and D.A. Laird. “Mechanisms and forces controlling pesticide retention by soil clay minerals,” USDA NRI Grant 2003-35107-12899, for two years during 10/2002-10/2004.

Miller, D.M., B.J. Teppen, and L. Schäfer. “Molecular simulation of adsorption at the clay mineral/ aqueous solution interface.” USDA NRI Grant 99-35107-7782, for two years during 10/1999-10/2001.

Teppen, B.J., P.M. Bertsch, A. Masion, and J.-Y. Bottero. “Speciation and formation mechanisms of Fe-Si associations in natural media: A unified approach combining spectroscopy and molecular modeling.” National Science Foundation Division of International Programs Grant INT-9815274, 7/1999 through 6/2002.

Miller, D.M., B.J. Teppen, and L. Schäfer. 1997. Molecular simulation of adsorption at the clay mineral/ aqueous solution interface. USDA NRI Grant 97-35107-4362, two years during 10/1997-10/1999.

Miller, D.M., and L. Schäfer. 1995. Molecular simulation of adsorption at the clay mineral/ aqueous solution interface. USDA NRI Grant 95-37107-1915, two years during 10/1995-10/1997. Teppen helped write the proposal and do the work but was not an official PI.

Miller, D.M., B.J. Teppen, and L. Schäfer. 1993. Molecular simulation of adsorption at the clay mineral/ aqueous solution interface. USDA NRI Grant 93-37102-9557, two years during 10/1993-10/1995.

International competitive grants

Basile-Doelsch, I., A. Masion, J. Balesdent, S. Derenne, H. St. Macary, and B.J. Teppen. “Organo-mineral complexes in soils: Role in dynamics and sequestration of carbon,” Institut National des Sciences de l’Univers (Paris) program in ‘Continental ecosphere: Processes and modeling,’ for 2004-2005.

Courses Taught:

CSS 330: Soil chemistry (undergraduate) course description course web site
CSS 355: Environmental Soil Chemistry
CSS 825: Clay mineralogy (graduate) course description course web site
CSS 850: Soil chemistry (graduate) course description course web site
Short course in molecular modeling 1997 1999 2002
NSC 840: Writing in the sciences (graduate) course description

Courses in development:

Scientific logic versus (advertising and propaganda) 


Professional Affiliations, Awards and Honors:

American Chemical Society
Clay Minerals Society
Soil Science Society of America
Phi Beta Kappa (academic excellence, member since 1977)
Sigma Pi Sigma (physics honor society, member since 1977)
Sigma Xi (scientific research society, member since 1991)
Intercollegiate baseball team, Lawrence University and St. Olaf College, 1974-1976.
Intercollegiate soil-judging team, University of Arkansas, 1988-1990.
H.W. Mann Scholarship to attend the Creative Problem-Solving Institute, Buffalo, NY, 1989.
American Society of Agronomy Outstanding Senior, 1989.
University of Arkansas Senior Scholar (valedictorian address), 1990.
President, Arkansas Graduate Student Organization, 1991-1992.
Arkansas Graduate School Doctoral Fellowship, 1991-1994, in computational soil chemistry.