Dr. Boris van Breukelen

Research profile

My research aims to improve the mechanistic understanding of water quality changes in natural and engineered environmental systems with the goal of evidence-based water resources management. To this end, I combine field site monitoring, laboratory experiments, and reactive transport modelling. I am interested in the full suite of water quality constituents and their interactions: main ions; (geogenic) trace metals like arsenic; nutrients; gases; organic micro pollutants (e.g., aromatic hydrocarbons, chlorinated ethenes, pesticides) with compound-specific stable isotope analysis (CSIA); and microorganisms including pathogens. The focus of my research is on groundwater technologies which become increasingly popular to seasonally store/abstract water or thermal energy, or treat pollution in the subsurface such as: managed aquifer recharge (MAR), aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES), and monitored natural attenuation (MNA). Furthermore, I am interested in engineered sand filters for groundwater pre- and post-treatment, and water quality in larger scale groundwater and surface water systems.

Specialty Chief Editor Frontiers in Water – Section Environmental Water Quality

  • Associate Professor (tenured), since September 2020, Delft University of Technology
  • Assistant Professor (tenure-track), September 2015-Augustus 2020, Delft University of Technology
  • Assistant Professor (tenured), 2002-Augustus 2015, VU University Amsterdam
  • PhD degree, 2003, Department of Earth Sciences, VU University Amsterdam
  • Researcher, 1997-2002, Department of Earth Sciences, VU University Amsterdam
  • Doctorandus degree in Environmental Sciences, 1997, VU University Amsterdam
  • VWO, 1991, Vossius Gymnasium Amsterdam (secondary school)
  1. Climate-resilient agriculture in the Dutch salinizing coastal delta: innovative water management, adaptive agriculture, and promising transition pathways (AGRICOAST). Multidisciplinary project funded by NWO (1.5 M€; 4 PhDs & 1 PDEng). 2022-2027. Coordinator and promotor of 2 PhD and 1 PDEng student. Students to be recruited by summer 2022 (vacancies will be advertised on academic transfer dot com in Spring 2022). More information on the project .
  2. Land, Sea, and Society: Linking terrestrial pollutants and inputs to nearshore coral reef growth to identify novel conservation options for the Dutch Caribbean (SEALINK). Multidisciplinary project funded (3.5 M€) by NWO Caribbean research. 2021-2025. WP leader on water and pollutant fluxes from land to sea (at Curaçao and St. Eustatius) and promotor of 2 PhD students (one at TUD and one at WUR). More information on the project: here, here, and there.
    1. PhD student Titus Kruijssen (WUR): physical hydro(geo)logy: run-off and submarine groundwater discharge fluxes from land to sea.
    2. PhD student Mike Wit (TUD): environmental hydro(geo)logy: water quality of groundwater and run-off and pollutant loads from land to sea.
  3. Sensor data fusion for remote monitoring of hydrocarbon groundwater pollution plumes. Funded by NWO-Wetsus. 2021-2025. PI. PhD student Lester Wu. More information on the project.
  4. Developing a zoning methodology for identifying hotspot areas of groundwater impacts in transboundary aquifers of arid regions. IHE project led by Graham Jewitt and Tibor Stigter. 2021-2025. Co-supervisor and co-promotor. PhD student Constanza Maass Morales
  5. Agriculture & Managed Aquifer Recharge (AGRIMAR): Drainage Water Recycling for Irrigation and Surface Water Quality Protection. Funded by NWO Topsector Water. 2017-2022. Coordinator. More information on the project (in Dutch).
    1. PhD Student Emiel Kruiswijk: chemical water quality (nutrients, pesticides, geogenic metals).
    2. PhD student Carina Eisfeld: plant pathogen removal during MAR and quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA).
  6. MAR performance and optimization regarding drinking water quality in coastal Bangladesh with focus on arsenic (im)mobilization. DeltaMAR project funded by NWO UDW. 2016-2020. PhD student Risalat Rafiq. More information on the project.
  7. Biofiltration & ASR of urban storm water. Funded by EU Climate KIC. 2019-2021. PDEng student Joshua Gallegos. More information on the project.


6. 2020. HĂ©loĂŻse Thouement (TU Delft): “Peeking inside the black-box: A model-based interpretation of multi-elemental isotope date of chlorinated ethenes in heterogeneous aquifer systems”. Funding: EU Marie Curie ITN CSI:ENVIRONMENT; USA ESTCP project ER-201029; USA SERDP project ER-2623. PDF of PhD thesis.

5. 2017. Moshiur Rahman (TU Delft): “Field experiments and reactive transport modelling of subsurface arsenic removal in Bangladesh”. Funding: NWO WOTRO. PDF of PhD thesis.

4. 2015. Stefanie Lutz (VU University Amsterdam): “Isotopic fingerprints of organic pollutants: quantifying sources and sinks of organic pollutants with isotope analysis from aquifer to catchment scale”. Funding: EU Marie Curie ITN CSI:ENVIRONMENT. PDF of PhD thesis.

3. 2015. Andreas Antoniou (VU University Amsterdam). “Optimizing aquifer storage recovery through hydrogeochemical analysis of a pilot, column tests, and modeling”. Funding: TTIW. PDF of PhD thesis.

2. 2014. Paula Rodríguez-Escales (Excellent – Cum Laude; Autonomous University of Barcelona): “Modeling of enhanced in situ bionitrification at different scales: Integration of microbiological, hydrogeochemical, and isotope biogeochemical processes”. Funding: several Spanish national projects. PDF of PhD thesis.

1. 2013. Matthijs Bonte (VU University Amsterdam): “Impacts of shallow geothermal energy on groundwater quality. A hydrochemical and geomicrobial study of the effects of ground source heat pumps and aquifer thermal energy storage”. Funding: joint research program of the Dutch Water sector (BTO), “Effects of shallow geothermal energy”, B111680. PDF of PhD thesis.

In addition, I have co-supervised the following 4 PhD students (co-author of 2-3 chapters/articles in PhD thesis): Lin Bin (2006); Trian Brad (2007); Jubhar Mangimbulude (2013); and Liang Yu (2021).


A list of all publications by Boris van Breukelen can be found here (google scholar)

Publication statistics (January, 2022):
63 peer reviewed publications in international journals
h-index: 30 Google Scholar, 24 ISI
Citations: 3115 Google Scholar, 2065 ISI

Below selected publications are shown per research topic:

  • Fundamentals of Water Treatment. CIE4495-13. MSc. Coordinator.
  • Industrial Water. CIE-4486. MSc. Supervision of PHREEQC Computer Modelling practical.
  • Chemical Processes. CIE-4704. MSc. Supervision of PHREEQC Computer Modelling practical.
  • Supervision of BSc and MSc student thesis projects.
  • Graduation coordinator Environmental Engineering track.

Boris van Breukelen