Avner Vengosh

Nicholas Distinguished Professor of Environmental Quality

Avner Vengosh is a Distinguished Professor and Nicholas Chair of Environmental Quality at the Nicholas School of the Environment. He is the chair of the Division of  Earth and Climate Sciences. Professor Vengosh and his team have studied the energy-water nexus, conducting pioneer research on the impact of hydraulic fracturing and coal ash disposal on the quantity and quality of water resources in the U.S. and China. He has also investigated the sources and mechanisms of water contamination in numerous countries across the globe, including salinity and radioactivity in the Middle East, uranium in India, fluoride in Eastern Africa, arsenic in Vietnam, and hexavalent chromium in North Carolina and China. As part of these studies, his team has developed novel geochemical and isotopic tracers that are used as fingerprints to delineate the sources of water contamination and evaluate potential risks for human health. Currently, his team is engaged in studying phosphate rocks geochemistry and the impact of fertilizers on soil and water quality, unconventional sources of critical raw materials, and potential environmental effects of lithium mining from hard rocks and brines. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America (GSA) and International Association of Geochemistry (IAGC). In 2019, 2020 and 2021 he was recognized as one of the Web of Science Highly Cited Researchers. He serves as an Editor of GeoHealth and on the editorial board of the journal Environmental Science and Technology. He has published 171 scientific papers in leading international journals. His recent cross-disciplinary book “Water Quality Impacts of the Energy-Water Nexus” (Cambridge University Press, 2020) provides an integrated assessment of the different scientific and policy tools around the energy-water nexus. It focuses on how water use, and wastewater and waste solids produced from fossil fuel energy production affect water quality and quantity. Summarizing cutting edge research, the book describes the scientific methods for detecting contamination sources in the context of policy and regulations.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Nicholas Distinguished Professor of Environmental Quality
  • Professor of Environmental Quality
  • Research Professor of Global Health
  • Professor of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Duke Kunshan University
  • Faculty Network Member of The Energy Initiative

Contact Information

  • Office Location: 308 Research Drive, A-207 LSRC, Durham, NC 27708
  • Office Phone: +1 919 681 8050
  • Email Address: vengosh@duke.edu
  • Websites:


  • B.S. Hebrew University (Israel), 1984
  • M.S. Hebrew University (Israel), 1986
  • Ph.D. Australian National University (Australia), 1990

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Paper “Large-scale Uranium Contamination of Groundwater Resources in India” was selected as one of the best papers for 2018 . Editors of Environmental Science & Technology Letters. 2019
  • Leadership award by the Water-Rock Interaction (WRI) Working Group, . International Association of Geochemistry. 2019
  • Paper “The geochemistry of naturally occurring methane and saline groundwater in an area of unconventional shale gas development” was selected to be the winner of the 2018 Dalway Swaine Award. Society for Organic Petrology . 2018
  • Geological Society of America (GSA) Fellow. Geological Society of America. 2015

Courses Taught

  • GLHLTH 534: Water Quality Health
  • EOS 791: Independent Study
  • EOS 524: Water Quality Health
  • EOS 394: Research Independent Study
  • EOS 393: Research Independent Study
  • EOS 220: Water Sciences: Principles and Challenges
  • ENVIRON 997: Duke Environmental Leadership: Independent Studies and Projects
  • ENVIRON 899: Master's Project
  • ENVIRON 524: Water Quality Health
  • ENVIRON 220: Water Sciences: Principles and Challenges
  • ENERGY 524: Water Quality Health
  • ECS 524: Water Quality Health
  • ECS 394: Research Independent Study
  • ECS 393: Research Independent Study
  • ECS 220: Water Sciences: Principles and Challenges

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Vengosh, Avner, Rachel M. Coyte, Joel Podgorski, and Thomas M. Johnson. “A critical review on the occurrence and distribution of the uranium- and thorium-decay nuclides and their effect on the quality of groundwater.” The Science of the Total Environment 808 (February 2022): 151914. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.151914.
  • Vengosh, Avner, and Associate Professor of Environmental Policy Erika Weinthal. Water Quality Impacts of the Energy-Water Nexus, 2021.