Jennifer Jay

Jennifer Jay

Chair, B.S. in Environmental Science; Professor

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

5732H Boelter Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1593


Jay Lab at UCLA

Profile at Samueli School of Engineering

Jennifer Jay’s research integrates field and laboratory approaches to better understand the geochemical and microbial processes that govern the fate of contaminants in the environment. Specific interests include the geochemical and microbial methylation of mercury by sulfate-reducing bacteria (the end-product of this reaction, methylmercury, is a potent neurotoxin with a very strong tendency to bioaccumulate), the mobilization of arsenic in groundwater, and the persistence of fecal indicator bacteria and pathogens in beach sediment. Understanding the cycling of contaminants in aquatic systems allows us to better assess and minimize hazards associated with environmental contamination, and to more accurately predict effects of environmental perturbations.

Jay earned her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  She is a Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of California Los Angeles, with an appointment in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.  She specializes in the fate and transport of chemical and microbial contaminants in the environment.  Her research addresses a wide range of topics  including coastal water quality, heavy metals in the environment, environmental proliferation of antibiotic resistance, and the impacts of environmental education on the carbon footprint of dietary choices. She teaches classes in Aquatic Chemistry, Statistics, Chemical Fate and Transport, and Food: A Lens for Environment and Sustainability.  She was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, and two engineering school-wide awards for excellence in teaching.  In addition, she was the Pritzker Fellow for Environmental Sustainability and a Carnegie Fellow for Civic Engagement in Higher Education.  Jennifer also directs the Center for Environmental Research and Community Engagement (CERCE), a UCLA Center that addresses community-based environmental research questions in under-served communities in Los Angeles.


B.S., (1991), Massachusetts Institute of Technology
M.S., (1993), Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ph.D., (1999), Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Selected Awards and Honors

  • School-wide Lockheed Martin Award for Excellence in Teaching 2019
  • National Water Research Institute Technical Advisory Panel (2012-present)
  • SMMUSD Honorary Service Award for Outstanding Service to Children and Youth 2015
  • Coordinator of science projects and poster sessions at UCLA for K-12 students 2003 – 2014
  • Pritzker Fellow for Environmental Sustainability 2011 and 2012
  • Northrop Grumman Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2007
  • Carnegie Foundation Faculty Fellow for Service Learning for Political Engagement, 2007-2008
  • Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE), 2004
  • NSF Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, 2004-Present
  • Fellow of Martin Society for Global Sustainability, 1999
  • GE Graduate Research Fellowship, 1995
  • Member of Chi Epsilon, 1991
  • Parsons Fellowship, 1991