Elsie Sunderland

Fred Kavli Professor of Environmental Chemistry and

Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and

Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences


T: 617-496-0858 | Email | 29 Oxford Street, Room 127 | Research Group Home

Short Bio


Elsie Sunderland is the Fred Kavli Professor of Environmental Chemistry and Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. She holds faculty appointments in the Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Chan School of Public Health, and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Professor Sunderland's research aims to better understand how chemical pollutants interact with natural ecosystems and affect life. Her research combines field work and lab measurements with the development of environmental models that can inform policy decisions and risk mitigation efforts. Prior to joining the faculty at Harvard, she spent five years at the headquarters for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency working on regulatory impact assessments for Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP) and developing guidance on how to use environmental models to inform regulatory decisions. Much of Professor Sunderland’s recent work has focused on characterizing exposure sources for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and developing chemometric indicators for source attribution. Over the past 20 years, she has collaborated extensively with indigenous groups, NGOs, and governmental organizations. Her work has informed strategies for managing risks associated with environmental chemical exposures from energy infrastructure such as coal-fired power plants and hydroelectric dams. Professor Sunderland has trained >30 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and has published >100 peer-reviewed papers. She is a member of the editorial advisory boards for several journals including Environmental Science & Technology, Environmental Science Processes and Impacts, and ACS Environmental Au. Prof. Sunderland is a proud Canadian and received her B.Sc. from McGill University in Quebec and Ph.D. from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. Outside of work, she is interested in dogs (particularly if they have beards), running, being a soccer/sailing mom for her two kids, and coastal conservation.


Google Scholar Profile


Wikipedia Profile


Feature in Harvard Magazine July-August 2018


Faculty profile in Harvard University's Center for the Environment (HUCE) Spring 2016 Newsletter.



Sunderland Lab

Group Administrator: Robert Stanhope

Address: 29 Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138

E-mail:  stanhope [at] seas.harvard.edu