Shervin Kabiri

Dr Shervin Kabiri

Mortlock Fellow

School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) represent a class of synthetic chemicals that have garnered considerable attention due to their widespread occurrence in the environment and potential adverse effects on human health and ecosystems. These compounds, characterized by their strong carbon-fluorine bonds, have been extensively used in various industrial and consumer applications, including firefighting foams, non-stick cookware, and waterproof textiles. However, their persistence, bioaccumulative nature, and mobility in the environment have raised significant environmental concerns. PFAS have been detected in soil, water, air, wildlife, and even human bodies worldwide. Their adverse effects include developmental and reproductive toxicity, immune system disruption, and potential links to cancer. Given their pervasive presence and detrimental impacts, there is an urgent need to remove PFAS from the environment to safeguard human health and ecological integrity.

Within my group at the University of Adelaide, I lead fundamental research on PFAS fate, transport, and leaching from various environmental matrices, including soil, water, and biosolids. Below are a few examples of our ongoing research initiatives:

Systematic monitoring of PFAS remediation in soil

The in situ immobilization of PFAS in contaminated soils presents an immediate and cost-effective solution, effectively reducing PFAS leaching into ground and surface waters. This technology has been widely utilized both in Australia and globally to address PFAS and other toxic contaminants. Various sorbents, such as activated carbon, biochars, minerals, and mixed-composition commercial materials, are employed to bind and immobilize PFAS. While these materials have shown varying success in reducing PFAS solubility and transport in soils, a crucial question arises regarding their long-term binding capacity.

The degradation of sorbents, changes in soil properties (e.g., pH, salinity), environmental conditions (e.g., moisture content, temperature), or PFAS chemistry over time may compromise PFAS immobilization, leading to contaminant release. Previous research has indicated a reduction in PFAS leachability from soil two weeks after immobilization, but subsequent studies revealed a significant decrease in the efficiency of seven out of ten sorbents after four years, casting doubt on the long-term sorption ability of some sorbents. It is plausible that complex processes, including changes in sorbent properties or PFAS transformation, may influence the long-term stability of PFAS immobilization in soil. Alternatively, it could indicate a lack of effective testing tools.

To address these concerns, we plan to establish a first-of-its-kind in-field monitoring program and develop a systematic procedure to assess the durability of PFAS immobilization in soil. The research outcomes will facilitate accurate risk assessments and inform effective site management and remediation strategies, ultimately reducing the potential impact of PFAS on human and ecosystem health and wellbeing.

Figure 1. PFAS immobilization in soil.
Figure 1. PFAS immobilization in soil.


 Hydrodynamic cavitation as and efficient method to separate PFAS from water

This project aims to evolve foam fractionation technology to create a cost-effective, portable method to remove poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) effectively from water and other matrixes. High-shear mixing will be used to create micron-scale bubbles that boost PFAS adsorption from contaminated liquid. This approach uses off-the-shelf equipment either by itself to separate PFAS from different matrices or through incorporation into existing treatment processes. The combination of high-shear mixing and optimized mobilization solutions, developed with eco-friendly components, will address a current technology gap by being able to remove both short- and long-chain PFASs. Critically, this process occurs within seconds, a significant advantage over conventional foam fractionation.

Figure 2. Hydrodynamic cavitation (high shear mixer) for PFAS separation from water
Figure 2. Hydrodynamic cavitation (high shear mixer) for PFAS separation from water.


2024-25  Investigating the PFAS burden in livestock raised on biosolid-amended pastures, Department of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, $487.093

2024-27 Closing the data gap: Systematic monitoring of PFAS remediation in soil, ARC-DECRA, $398,945

2023-24 Can biochar prevent toxic PFAS entering the human food chain?, Yitpi Foundation, $14,650

2023-25- Longevity of stabilised soils for PFAS; Evaluation of shallow emplacement; CSIRO, $139,070.80

2023-25-Ameliorated compost or biosolid composite materials with safe and sustainable application in the agriculture, FAME Sustainability Accelerated- UoA, $94,278

2023-24 Do beneficial soil fungi reduce the accumulation of toxic PFAS in cereal crops? Yitpi Foundation, $14,050

2023-24 Development of a new sorbent for removal of emerging contaminants from the environment, Department of Industry, Science and Resources, $100,000

2021-22 ARC-Tender Comprehensive review of the literature in the area of PFAS remediation and destruction to assess their appropriateness in the Australian context, ARC, $190,000

2020-21 Evaluating the longevity of the effectiveness of soil stabilization in reducing the leachability of PFAS, CSIRO, $71,000

2020-21 Investigating PFAS runoff, Ventia PTY LTD, $192,238

  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2024 Co-Supervisor Tantalum-Based Metal Oxides for the Photocatalytic Degradation of Per- or Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Rachael Kate Matthews
    2024 Principal Supervisor Systematic monitoring of emerging contaminant immobilisation in soil Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Shrinath Bhat
    2024 Principal Supervisor Screening of new sorbent formulations and materials for PFAS remediation Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Nikoo Nabizadeh Moghaddam
    2024 Principal Supervisor Unveiling emerging contaminants in the human food chain: Biosolid application and risk reduction Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Maliheh Arab
    2023 Co-Supervisor The evaluation of foam fractionation via high-shear mixing as a process for the remediation of PFAS-contaminated waters and soils. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Matthew James Richardson
    2023 Co-Supervisor Development of innovative nano-structured amendments for improving soil structural stability in alkaline dispersive soils Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Zeinab Ghasemzadeh
    2022 Co-Supervisor Desorption of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances from solid matrices Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Minshu Liang
  • Position: Mortlock Fellow
  • Phone: 83139306
  • Email:
  • Campus: Waite
  • Building: Prescott, floor 3
  • Org Unit: Agricultural Science

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