Tarabara Research Group


We are a research group in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan State University. Our interests are in the interdisciplinary area at the junction of colloid and interface science and separation science. Most of our current projects focus on membrane separation processes and membrane materials.

Research overview

There are two crosscutting themes that have been leitmotifs in most of our work:

- We design functional nanocomposite membranes and search for optimal trade-offs to resolve the conflicting requirements of reactivity and flux. We study how nanomaterial-based functions can be introduced into polymeric and ceramic membranes to enhance reactions.
- Our research on membrane fouling includes fundamental studies of related phenomena (e.g. foulant-pore interaction) and development of materials-based and process-based solutions for fouling control.

Recent projects

Most recent projects in our group are on the removal and inactivation of viruses and on separation of liquid-liquid emulsions. There are specific practical needs and applications that motivate this research. At the same time, some of the fundamental processes that underlie these separations have yet to be understood:

- In projects on virus removal we work to elucidate mechanisms of virus adhesion to surfaces and transport across porous membranes. We use this knowledge to design membranes that can concentrate human viruses and bacteriophages with high and reproducible recoveries. Such separations should enable reliable detection and accurate quantification of viruses. We also design photocatalytic membranes that can inactivate viruses in high throughput treatment systems.
- To meet environmental regulations removal of finely dispersed oil from water is often required. The efficiency of current separation technologies decreases dramatically with a decrease in oil drop size. Membrane filtration can remove smaller drops but membrane fouling limits broader acceptance of the technology. To overcome this limitation we seek mechanistic understanding of the behavior of oil drops and films at the membrane surface during filtration.


Representative publications

Polymer nanocomposite membranes Membrane surface modification
  Environ. Sci.: Nano. 3 (2016) 453-461 (doi)   J. Membr. Sci. 514 (2016) 340-349 (doi)
  J. Membr. Sci. 453 (2014) 478-488 (doi)   J. Membr. Sci. 491 (2015) 149-158 (doi)
  Water Res. 47 (2013) 3984-3996 (doi)   J. Membr. Sci. 469 (2014) 140-150 (doi)
  J. Membr. Sci. 325 (2008) 58-68 (doi)   J. Membr. Sci. 349 (2010) 268-278 (doi)
Virus removal by membranes Separation of oil-water emulsions
  Environ. Sci.: Water Res. Technol. (2017) Accepted (doi)   J. Membr. Sci. 537 (2017) 384-395 (doi)
  Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 82 (2016) 4982-4993 (doi)   J. Membr. Sci. 500 (2016) 211-224 (doi)
  J. Membr. Sci. 482 (2016) 120-127 (doi)   J. Membr. Sci. 473 (2015) 245-255 (doi)
  Separ. Purif. Technol. 149 (2015) 245-254 (doi)   J. Membr. Sci. 447 (2013) 442-451 (doi)