Benoit Van Aken

Associate Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Office Hours

Tuesday 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM


Dr. Benoit Van Aken is an Assistant Professor and the Director of the Environmental Biotechnology Laboratory in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Benoit Van Aken earned a Masters in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering (1995) and a PhD in Biological Engineering (2000) at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. Dr. Van Aken is recognized for his research on the biodegradation of toxic organic pollutants by plants and bacteria. His specific area of expertise is the use molecular biology techniques for understanding and solving environmental engineering problems, such as biodegradation, sustainable biofuel production, and waterborne pathogens. Dr. Van Aken has published more than 40 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and he has received funding from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Agriculture, National Park Service, and Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program.


  • Ph.D. Biochemical Engineering, Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, 2000
  • B.S./M.S. Chemical and Biological Engineering, Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, 1995
  • B.S./M.S. Econometrics, Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, 1990

Academic Appointments 

  • Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Temple University, August 2009-present
  • Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, 2005 - 2009
  • Associate Research Scientist, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iowa, June 2003 – August 2005

Recent Publications

  • Kaveh R, Li Y-S, Ranjbar S, Tehrani R, Brueck CL, Van Aken B (2013). Changes in Arabidopsis thaliana gene expression in response to silver nanoparticles and silver ions. Environ Sci Technol. DOI: 10.1021/es402209w
  • Tehrani R, Lyv M, Van Aken B (2013) Transformation of hydroxylated derivatives of 2,5-dichlorobiphenyl and 2,4,6-trichlorobiphenyl by Burkholderia xenovorans LB400. J Environ Sci Pollu Res. DOI 10.1007/s11356-013-1629-6
  • Tehrani R, Lyv M, Kaveh R, Schnoor JL, Van Aken B (2012). Biodegradation of mono-hydroxylated PCBs by Burkholderia xenovorans LB400. Biotechnol Lett. DOI 10.1007/s10529-012-1037-x
  • Van Aken B, Lin L (2011). Effect of disinfection processes on DNA: Implication for the dispersion of antimicrobial resistance. Wat Sci Technol. 46:1226-1232.
  • Van Aken B, Correa PA, Schnoor JL (2010). Phytoremediation of polychlorinated biphenyls: New trends and promises. Environ Sci Technol. 44:2767-2776

Research Interest

Dr. Van Aken's specific area of expertise focuses on the use of advanced biochemical and molecular biology methods for understanding and solving environmental engineering problems, including the biodegradation of toxic environmental pollutants, the production of biofuel from sustainable feedstock, and the dispersion of pathogen in surface waters.

Dr. Van Aken's current research projects: 

  • Biodegradation of polychlorinated biphenyls – PCBs, funded by National Institute of Health (NIH)
  • Cultivation of plants on polluted land for the combined benefits of phytoremediation and biodiesel production, funded by US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
  • Metagenomic analysis of aquatic microbial communities, funded by the National Park Service (NPS)
  • Growing microalgae in wastewater for biodiesel production
  • Transcriptional analysis of plants exposed to nanoparticles