Manuel Montaño

Associate Professor · he/him


Growing up in the mountains and foothills of Colorado, I was at the intersection between the natural beauty of the Rockies and the detrimental aspects of anthropogenic influence. For every pristine lake and vista there were streams chockfull of iron oxides indicative of the past and current mining activities. My undergraduate education provided me with the opportunity to further explore these systems, investigating the impact this acid mine drainage had on the phytoremediative capabilities of constructed wetlands. After a brief detour into forensic chemistry, and in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, I recommitted myself to environmental chemistry, galvanized to do my part in being a responsible steward of the environment. The emergence of engineered nanotechnology and its rapid introduction into commercial production provided an opportunity to get in front of a potential environmental problem. Throughout my doctoral work with Prof. James Ranville, I developed methods and techniques capable of tracking and characterizing these potential contaminants in environmental and biological matrices with the intent that a better understanding of their fate and transport is key in understanding their potential risk.

Upon completion of my PhD, I still felt there was more to learn and desired to expand my toolbox of analytical techniques. Working with Prof. Lee Ferguson at Duke University, I focused on how nanomaterials may potentially influence and interact with contaminants such as polymer additives and plasticizers that are present in nano-enabled plastics. I also used this time to further evaluate and understand methods for detecting and characterizing carbonaceous nanomaterials in sediments. I was then offered an opportunity to work on a unique and exciting piece of instrumentation in Vienna, Austria with Dr. Frank von der Kammer. Using an inductively coupled plasma-time-of-flight-mass spectrometer I expanded on the work I started in my PhD, expanding the scope of nanomaterial analysis in environmental systems to also examine natural nanogeochemical processes. 

At Western I aim to utilize my experience in analytical chemistry, geochemistry, and colloid science to better understand nanogeochemical processes and how they impact and are impacted by the changing environment. The work I do includes method development, but also the application of these methods to resolve chemistry occurring at nano- and microscale and how these processes affect the fate and transport of contaminants and nutrients.


PhD Applied Chemistry, Colorado School of Mines; BSc Chemistry, Colorado School of Mines

Research Interests

  • Examining the impact of nanopesticides on soil environments and the biological and abiotic degradation of neonicotinoids
  • Exploring the role of naturally occurring colloids in the transport of nutrients and contaminants in the natural environment
  • Monitoring the release of polymer additives and plasticizers from nano-enabled polymer composites



Baccaro, M., Montaño, M.D., Cui, X., Mackevica, A., Lynch, I., von der Kammer, F., Lodge, R.W., Khlobystov, A.N. and van den Brink, N.W., 2022. Influence of dissolution on the uptake of bimetallic nanoparticles Au@ Ag-NPs in soil organism Eisenia fetida. Chemosphere302, p.134909.

Montaño, M.D., Cuss, C.W., Holliday, H.M., Javed, M.B., Shotyk, W., Sobocinski, K.L., Hofmann, T., Kammer, F.V.D. and Ranville, J.F., 2022. Exploring Nanogeochemical Environments: New Insights from Single Particle ICP-TOFMS and AF4-ICPMS. ACS Earth and Space Chemistry.

Mansor, M., Alarcon, H., Xu, J., Ranville, J.F. and Montaño, M.D., 2022. Simultaneous Insight into Dissolution and Aggregation of Metal Sulfide Nanoparticles through Single-Particle Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry. ACS Earth and Space Chemistry.


Rauschendorfer, R.J., Whitham, K.M., Summer, S., Patrick, S.A., Pierce, A.E., Sefi-Cyr, H., Tadjiki, S., Kraft, M.D., Emory, S.R., Rider, D.A. and Montaño, M.D., 2021. Development and Application of Nanoparticle-Nanopolymer Composite Spheres for the Study of Environmental Processes. Frontiers in Toxicology3, p.752296.

Walker, I., Montano, M.D., Lankone, R.S., Fairbrother, D.H. and Ferguson, P.L., 2021. Influence of CNT loading and environmental stressors on leaching of polymer-associated chemicals from epoxy and polycarbonate nanocomposites. Environmental Chemistry.


Montaño, M.D., Liu, K., Sabo-Attwood, T. and Ferguson, P.L., 2020. Analysis of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes in Estuarine Sediments by Density Gradient Ultracentrifugation Coupled to Near-Infrared Fluorescence Spectroscopy Reveals Disassociation of Residual Metal Catalyst Nanoparticles. Environmental Science & Technology55(2), pp.1015-1023.

Cornelis, G., Tuoriniemi, J., Montaño, M., Wagner, S., Gallego-Urrea, J.A., Mattsson, K. and Gondikas, A., 2020. Challenges and current approaches toward environmental monitoring of nanomaterials. Monitoring Environmental Contaminants, p.73.

Bevers, S.G., Montaño, M.D., Rybicki, L., Hofmann, T., von der Kammer, F. and Ranville, J.F., 2020. Quantification and Characterization of Nanoparticulate Zinc in an Urban Watershed. Frontiers in Environmental Science8, p.84.


Montaño, M.D., von der Kammer, F., Cuss, C.W. and Ranville, J.F., 2019. Opportunities for examining the natural nanogeochemical environment using recent advances in nanoparticle analysis. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry34(9), pp.1768-1772.


Reed, R.B., Martin, D.P., Bednar, A.J., Montaño, M.D., Westerhoff, P. and Ranville, J.F., 2017. Multi-day diurnal measurements of Ti-containing nanoparticle and organic sunscreen chemical release during recreational use of a natural surface water. Environmental Science: Nano4(1), pp.69-77.

Tadjiki, S., Montaño, M.D., Assemi, S., Barber, A., Ranville, J. and Beckett, R., 2017. Measurement of the Density of Engineered Silver Nanoparticles Using Centrifugal FFF-TEM and Single Particle ICP-MS. Analytical chemistry89(11), pp.6056-6064.


Montaño, M.D., Olesik, J.W., Barber, A.G., Challis, K. and Ranville, J.F., 2016. Single Particle ICP-MS: Advances toward routine analysis of nanomaterials. Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry408(19), pp.5053-5074.

Montaño, M.D., Majestic, B.J., Jämting, Å.K., Westerhoff, P. and Ranville, J.F., 2016. Methods for the detection and characterization of silica colloids by microsecond spICP-MS. Analytical chemistry88(9), pp.4733-4741.

Montaño, M. D. “Single particle ICP-MS” and “Field flow fractionation” in Environmental Nanotechnology: Applications and Impacts of Nanomaterials, 2 Ed. Wiesner, M. R.; Bottero, J.-Y. [Ed.] McGraw Hill, 2016


Speed, D.; Westerhoff, P.; Sierra-Alvarez, R.; Draper, R.; Pantano, P.; Aravamudhan, S.; Chen, K.-L.; Hristovski, K.; Herckes, P.; Bi, X.; Yang, Y.; Zeng, C.; Otero-Gonzalez, L.; Mikoryak, C.; Wilson, B.; Kosaraju, K.; Tarannum, M.; Crawford, S.; Yi, P.; Liu, X.; Babu, S.; Moinpour, M.; Ranville, J.; Montaño, M.; Corredor, C.; Posner, J.; Shadman, F. Physical, Chemical, and In Vitro Toxicological Characterization of Nanoparticles in Chemical Mechanical Planarization Suspensions Used in the Semiconductor Industry: Towards Environmental Health and Safety Assessments. Environmental Science: Nano, 2015.

Ranville, J. and Montano, M.D., 2015. Size distributions. In Frontiers of Nanoscience (Vol. 8, pp. 91-121). Elsevier.


Montaño, M.D., Lowry, G.V., von der Kammer, F., Blue, J. and Ranville, J.F., 2014. Current status and future direction for examining engineered nanoparticles in natural systems. Environmental Chemistry11(4), pp.351-366.

Montano, M.D., Badiei, H.R., Bazargan, S. and Ranville, J.F., 2014. Improvements in the detection and characterization of engineered nanoparticles using spICP-MS with microsecond dwell times. Environmental Science: Nano1(4), pp.338-346.

Montano, M.D., Ranville, J. and Gardner, S.P., 2014. Detection and Characterization of Engineered Nanomaterials in the Environment: Current State-of-the-art and Future Directions. US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Environmental Sciences Division.

Lin, F.; Montaño, M.; Tian, C.; Ji, Y.; Nordlund, D.; Weng, Tsu-C.; Moore, R.; Gillaspie, D.; Jones, K.; Dillon, A.; Richards, R.; Engtrakul, C. Electrochromic Performance of Nanocomposite Nickel Oxide Counter Electrodes Containing Lithium and Zirconium. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 2014.

Montaño, M.D., 2014. Single Particle Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (spICP-MS): Engineered Nanoparticle Characterization. In Dekker Encyclopedia of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Seven Volume Set (pp. 1-7). CRC Press.


Teaching Schedule

ESCI 455/555 Lecture: TR 10-11:40am