Center for Environmental Research

and Community Engagement

Food and Environment


Easy Meals

for the Planet

Jennifer A. Jay, Ph.D.

Environmental Engineering

6626H Boelter Hall
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of California
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1593

Phone: (310) 866-2444
Fax: (310) 206-2222


Ph.D., (1999), Massachusetts Institute of Technology
M.S., (1993), Massachusetts Institute of Technology
B.S., (1991), Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Research Interests

Read about our Surfer Resistance Project! Click here for more information.

Our approach involves integrating field, experimental, and geochemical modeling work to understand the environmental fate and transport of microbial and chemical pollution and nutrients. We are currently working in several areas: 1) We are characterizing how sediments in coastal creeks can provide the ecosystem service of reducing the impact of microbial pollution on water quality. We are studying persistence of microbes and DNA-based fecal markers in sediments and we are observing dramatic differences in the ability of sediments to assimilate fecal pollution. 2) We are investigation the transport of antibiotic resistant bacteria in air and soils in agricultural and non-agricultural sites. In a comparison of air-borne bacteria downwind of cattle rearing facilities, we observed greater resistance to a suite of antibiotics in samples taken at conventional compared to organic samples. 3) We are conducting batch and column studies to better understand chemical controls on the adsorption of As on natural sediments from our field site.  We are incorporating our field and experimental data into geochemical equilibrium models of the site to better design and predict performance of remediation options.

Selected Honors and Activities

  • National Water Research Institute Technical Advisory Panel (2012-present)
  • SMMUSD Honorary Service Award for Outstanding Service to Children and Youth 2015
  • Coordinator of science projects and poster sessions at UCLA for K-12 students 2003 – 2014
  • Pritzker Fellow for Environmental Sustainability 2011 and 2012
  • Northrop Grumman Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2007
  • Carnegie Foundation Faculty Fellow for Service Learning for Political Engagement, 2007-2008
  • Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE), 2004
  • NSF Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, 2004-Present
  • Fellow of Martin Society for Global Sustainability, 1999
  • GE Graduate Research Fellowship, 1995
  • Member of Chi Epsilon, 1991
  • Parsons Fellowship, 1991


CEE 254: Aquatic Chemistry
This course teaches fundamental chemical concepts for understanding the behavior of inorganic species, such as carbonate, nutrients, and trace metals, in environmental aquatic systems. We focus on equilibrium concepts, including acid-base reactions, complexation, precipitation/dissolution, oxidation/reduction, and sorption. Students learn to determine the equilibrium composition of a system given its initial conditions, and are able to predict how perturbations will affect the chemistry of an aquatic system. The skills developed in this course are relevant to a wide range of environmental issues.

CEE 154: Chemical Fate and Transport in the Environment
This course covers the fundamental physical, chemical, and biological principles governing the movement and fate of chemicals in surface waters and groundwater. Topics include physical transport in various aquatic environments, air-water exchange, acid-base equilibria, oxidation-reduction chemistry, chemical sorption, biodegradation, and bioaccumulation. Students learn to solve practical, quantitative problems considering both reaction and transport of chemicals in the environment.

GE ENV M1 Cluster: Food: A Lens for Environment and Sustainability
This three-course cluster addresses one of the most pressing issues of our time — the relationships between the world’s rapidly growing human population and the global environment that makes human existence possible –through the lens of food. The connections between food and the environment are complex, encompassing scientific and social factors.   We discuss pressing issues including biodiversity loss, nutrient cycling, land conversion, climate change, sustainable energy, chemical pollution, antibiotic resistance, fresh water quality and quantity, equitable access to healthy food, and dietary trends. We investigate how our food systems impact all of these topics and the many exciting solutions that are under development.

CEE 267: Environmental Applications of Geochemical Modeling

Geochemical modeling is an important tool for predicting environmental impacts of contamination. Goals of this course are to 1) gain hands-on experience in modeling using a geochemical software package commonly used in research and in the environmental consulting industry, 2) gain a better understanding of the governing geochemical principles pertaining to the movement and transformation of contaminants, and 3) critically read primary literature papers. Types of modeling covered include speciation and mineral solubility, surface complexation, reaction path, inverse mass balance, reactive transport modeling, and kinetics.

CEE 110: Probability and Statistics for Engineers

The topic of statistics plays a crucial role in scientific and engineering work across disciplines. The knowledge and skills gained in this class help students both conduct and evaluate research more effectively. Students will learn to be proficient in R, as it is a free, easily-accessible, and very widely-used statistical software package.

Fiat Lux: Foodprint: Connections Between Food and Environment

In this course we explore the complex connections between food and the environment. We will begin with a discussion of “Planetary Boundaries” as a guide for understanding the limits for human alterations of the biosphere, beyond which abrupt changes could occur. In each of the four subsequent sessions, we will focus on how our foods systems are related to a series of topics related to the planetary boundaries: 1) climate change, 2) water use and quality, 3) land conversion and biodiversity loss, and 4) nutrient cycling. We will discuss relevant readings, and do activities to gain a quantitative understanding of the impacts of food systems on the environment.

CEE58SL Climate change, water quality and ecosystem functioning

This class covers the science relating climate change, water quality, and ecosystem health. Lecture and discussion topics include: 1) basics of climate change science, 2) climate change impacts on hydrology and water quality, and 3) climate change impacts on ecosystem functioning.  We examine the application of the scientific method in helping to understand and solve problems in environmental science. Case studies will be used to illustrate how natural scientists work on environmental issues. For the service-learning component of this course, students participate in a series of science education/research projects involving an elementary and middle school audience.

Current schedule of classes may be viewed online.