David C. Podgorski

Assistant Professor

B.S. Gardner-Webb University

Ph.D. Florida State University

David received his B.S. in Chemistry from Gardner-Webb University in 2007. His Ph.D. research was on separation and selective ionization of under characterized fractions of natural organic matter, advised by Dr. William T. Cooper at Florida State University. After defending in 2011, he completed an 18 month postdoc with Dr. Alan G. Marshall at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. He then stayed on with Dr. Marshall as a Research Scientist for five more years. He studied both petroleum and environmental chemistry during my time in the Marshall Group from 2011-2017. David began as Assistant Professor in the University of New Orleans Department of Chemistry and Pontchartrain Institute of Environmental Sciences. He also have an appointment as an Affiliate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Alaska Anchorage. David’s main areas of research are related to the fate of water-soluble hydrocarbon oxidation products in aquatic ecosystems and more recently, the behavior of asphaltenes in petrochemical process. I am always looking for new collaborations, so please feel free to contact me. 

C. Nacaya Brown

Graduate Student, Ph.D. (Co-Advised by Dr. Matthew A. Tarr)

B.S. Xavier University (New Orleans)

Nacaya Brown was born in New Orleans and raised in the bay area. She completed her undergraduate degree in chemistry at Xavier University of Louisiana in 2006 and gained industry experience at Folgers, Albermarle, and Eurofins Analytical in Petaluma, CA. In Fall 2016, Nacaya returned to the south to be closer to her son and to advance her academic career.  She enrolled in the M.S. program in chemistry at the University of New Orleans where she enjoyed the breeze from the lake, caramel macchiatos, mentorship, and cool science.  With the encouragement of family, faculty, and peers, she applied for entrance into the Ph.D. program.  Following her acceptance in the Spring of 2017, her research focused on drug synthesis and discovery for Glioblastoma treatment.  However, in the Spring of 2018, her research focus shifted from medicinal chemistry to analytical chemistry.

Nacaya is currently a graduate research assistant and conducts analytical research in Tarr and Podgorski laboratories.  Nacaya’s research highlights the impact of sunlight on crude oil emulsification capacity such that factors that control the emulsification of Deepwater Horizon oil are elucidated.  Her findings indicate that the formation of emulsions from oil impact the fate of oil spilled in aquatic environments.  Nacaya hopes that her research will attract opportunities for international travel, skill enrichment, and leadership.

Maxwell Harsha

Graduate Student, Ph.D., Oil Spill Recovery Institute (OSRI) Graduate Research Fellow

B.S. Loyola University Chicago

Maxwell is originally from Northwest Indiana. After receiving his B.S. in Biochemistry from Loyola University Chicago, he worked in industry at an analytical food testing company. Maxwell gained research experience in the area of synthetic organic chemistry while he was an undergraduate. After he gained some industrial analytical chemistry skills, he aspired to continue his education through a graduate program in chemistry. Maxwell came to the University of New Orleans in August 2020 to start his graduate education. He is currently working towards his Ph.D. in Environmental Analytical Chemistry. Maxwell is interested in understanding the complex relationships of the environment through the lens of analytical chemistry.  

Katherine E. Humpal

Graduate Student, Ph.D., Arctic Domain Awarness Centers (ADAC) Fellow

B.S. University of New Orleans

Katherine headshot

Katherine was born and raised on a small farm outside of Protivin, Iowa. She spent 8 years in Air Force Security Forces prior to getting her bachelor’s degree in chemistry with a minor in biology from the University of New Orleans. Currently, Katherine is doing her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry with emphasis on environmental chemistry.

Katherine’s research involves the study of the persistence, fate, and effects of hydrocarbon oxidation products (HOPs) that are mobilized in groundwater sources by biogeochemical processes with a primary focus on photooxidation degradation. She has collaborated with individuals from various universities, industries, and government agencies.

Yuri Kurerov

Graduate Student, Ph.D., Eurofins Doctoral Research Fellow

B.S. Gardner-Webb University

Yuri is originally from St. Petersburg, Russia where he went completed nursing school at the Pavlov First State Medical University of St. Petersburg in 2015. That same year, he was accepted to into the biology program at Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina. Yuri relocated to the United States to get his second undergraduate degree in biology with a chemistry minor. During his education at Gardner-Webb, he found his passion while working with analytical instrumentation. This passion led him to pursue a PhD in analytical chemistry. In May 2019, Yuri started in the doctorate program as a member of Dr. Podgorski’s research group in the Department of Chemistry at the University of New Orleans. His initial work focused on helping collaborators develop methods to quantify persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in environmental matrices. Yuri’s currently develops methods for banned substances such as hormones in foodstuffs at Eurofins Central Analytical Laboratory (ECAL) under the mentorship of Dr. Sarah King.

Chadiska Pascal

Graduate Student, Ph.D.

B.S. Grambling State University

Chadiska is a native of Dominica, an island affectionately known as the Nature Isle of the Caribbean. In 2021, She attained her bachelor degrees in Biology and Chemistry at Grambling State University (GSU). During her undergraduate studies at GSU, she became passionate about the notion of improving the lives of individuals through the development of pharmaceutical drugs. It is this passion that influenced her decision to pursue a doctoral degree at University of New Orleans where she is currently an Environmental Analytical Chemistry PhD student. 

Taiylor Watts

Graduate Student, Ph.D.

B.S. Grambling State University

Taiylor Watts was born in New Orleans and raised in Laplace, La. She completed her undergraduate degree in Chemistry with a concentration in Forensic Science at THEE Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana in 2017. She gained industry experience at TJH|2b Analytical, Louisiana Sugar Refinery, and ExxonMobil Refinery in Baton Rouge. Accompanied by the start of a new family, Taiylor felt the urge to advance her academic career. In Fall 2021, with the encouragement of family, former professors, and peers, she applied for entrance into the Ph.D. program at The University of New Orleans. Taiylor is currently working towards her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry. She is interested in developing research on cannabinoids.

Kristin Stewart

Undergraduate Student

Kristin hails from Baton Rouge, LA. She is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in chemistry with a concentration in forensics at the University of New Orleans. Kristin gained research experience in analytical chemistry as an undergraduate. She plans on to continue research for her career aspirations or hopes to work for the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab.

Talon Washington

Undergraduate Student, McNair Scholar


Talon was born and raised in New Orleans. She always had a love for science and become interested after watching the Discovery Health Channel on Cable. She currently attends the University of New Orleans and majors in Biology. Talon has conducted previous research at Tulane Environmental Science and Public Health and at Ochsner’s Translational Cancer Research lab. At Tulane, she researched how polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) caused oxidative stress on liver cells. At Ochsner’s lab, she analyzed how T-cells play a role in obesity-linked lupus. She loves research and all the questions it can answer. In addition to answering some questions, she still loves how it can raise more questions than answers sometimes. She hopes to attend a Ph.D./M.D. program to become a physician and still conduct research.  Her ultimate goal is to become a pathologist but knows the best way to practice medicine is through research to better help patients.

Alumni (Current Information)

Jonathan Long, M.Sc.; Morris Bonton III, M.S. (Eurofins Central Analytical Laboratory); Rana Ghannam, Undergraduate Tolmas Scholar, M.S.; Katherine Humpal, Undergraduate Tolmas Scholar (Ph.D. Program, UNO) Matthew Shields, Undergraduate Tolmas Scholar (M.D. Program, LSU Health);Terrell Shields, Undergraduate Tolmas Scholar (Eurofins Central Analytical Laboratory); Minh-Ahn Tran, Undergraduate (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Visiting International Scientists

Solène Gervais, École nationale supérieure d’ingénieurs de Caen & Centre de Recherche (National Graduate School of Engineering & Research Center)Lise Chapolon, Instituts universitaires de technologie – Université de Lyon1 (University Institutes of Technology – University of Lyon 1)