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Willam Bahureksa

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I was born in Farmington Hills, Michigan, however I lived for a few years in Delaware before moving to the southwest of the United States. I lived in Arizona for over a decade and completed my undergraduate education at the University of Arizona during the spring of 2016, where I majored in Chemistry and minored in Biochemistry.
I began studying Chemistry due to the challenge of the concepts and subject matter, which I became fascinated with throughout high school. At the University of Arizona, I had the chance to work in several different lab positions during my undergraduate. This ranged from a general caretaker of the lab to a student researcher. Although rewarding, these experiences showed me that I desired more intellectually stimulating work in place of preparatory labor, which manifested as a desire to attain a professional or graduate degree.
I am excited of the opportunity I have in performing research and furthering my education here at Colorado State University.

Project Summary

Much of the Earth’s natural resources interact or are incorporated with natural organic matter. Soil and water quality, oil and gas extraction, and capacity for waste disposal in soil have been attributed to the composition and functionality of the associated organic matter. Natural organic matter consists of compounds from the decay of plants, animals, and microbes, resulting in an extremely complex mixture exhibiting diverse structural functionality amongst a continuum of degradation products. Our group employs Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) as an ultra-high resolution technique capable of differentiation compounds differing by less than 1 Da. We employ a 9.4 tesla FT-ICR MS, operated by the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (Florida State University), with novel data processing approaches to perform compositional analysis of large data sets acquired from soil and marine sediment, wastewater treatment plants, and hydraulic fracturing sites. Ultimately, our goal is to elucidate mechanisms controlling organic matter distribution, cycling, fate, and interactions with the surrounding environment.


Non-targeted Screening for Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Waste and Biosolids

Anthropogenic waste originates from domestic and industrial processes and includes a large list of contaminants (e.g., pharmaceuticals, steroid hormones, preservatives, plasticizers, pesticides). Disposal efforts commonly result in the presence of these contaminants within environmental compartments, however, at present, sampling strategies and targeted analyses have been ineffective in determining the extent of pollution in a given area. The lack of a comprehensive database inclusive of pharmaceutical and industrial compounds regularly introduced to the field has resulted in difficulty establishing the basis to monitor a contaminant in the environment. Using FT-ICR MS, methods for screening waste samples are being developed to identify which contaminants persist throughout waste treatment processes and present environmental risks. The aim of this research is to provide methods to identify potential contaminants of interest in complex samples such as effluent from domestic and industrial waste streams, where results from screening would be instrumental in focusing targeted analysis towards relevant environmental risks.


Impacts of Forest Fires on Soil Organic Matter and Drinking Water Quality

In 2017, wildfires in California devastated an estimated 1.25 million acres of land and caused over $9.4 billion in damages in damages alone. Trends show that fire-affected areas have been increasing in the last few decades, with global studies estimating an average of 750 million acres of vegetation succumbing to wildfires a year. Fires contribute large amounts of carbon and particulate matter into the atmosphere and watershed that can effect ecosystem properties for decades afterwards. In addition to the increased cost associated with removing ash and sediment originating from burn areas, water treated from burn areas have been found to contain higher concentrations of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) that are considered toxic and require further treatment. Understanding thermal alterations and the fate of organic matter inputs is crucial to measuring water quality after burn events, however the high degree of variable functionality and large number of compounds has made this analysis challenging.

In order to understand how fire-impacted organic matter affects water quality, this research aims to implement high resolution FT-ICR MS to elucidate changes in dissolved organic matter being transported in water from fire-affected areas. Compositional analyses will be performed to understand changes in dissolved organic matter as a function of temperature, and to study precursors to DBP formation.

For more details about the research conducted in the Borch group please click here.

Recent Publications

Young, R.B.; Avneri-Katz, S.; McKenna, A.M.; Chen, H.; Bahureksa, W.; Polubesova, T.; Chefetz, B.; Borch, T. Composition-Dependent Sorptive Fractionation of Anthropogenic Dissolved Organic Matter by Fe(III)-Montmorillonite. Soil Systems, 2018, 2, 14, doi: 10.3390/soilsystems2010014.

Meier, A.R., Bahureksa, W.A., Heien, M.L. Elucidating the Structure–Function Relationship of Poly (3,4-
theylenedioxythiophene) Films to Advance Electrochemical Measurements. J. Phys. Chem. C, 2016, DOI:

For more publications in the Borch group please click here.

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