Department of
Natural Sciences

Alessandra Leri

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Distinguished Chair

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Alessandra Leri teaches courses in organic chemistry, general chemistry, and environmental science. Her research group, composed entirely of MMC undergraduates, conducts experiments in environmental chemistry. She regularly brings students to the synchrotron facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island for experimental “beamtimes.” Her students have presented their results at various undergraduate research symposia in the region, winning presentation awards on many occasions.

Prof. Leri’s research interests lie in organic geochemistry, particularly the biogeochemical cycles of halogens in terrestrial and marine environments. Her papers have helped overturn the long-established paradigm of halogens as unreactive inorganic elements in the environment. Recently, her research has shown that natural organochlorine production is associated with fungal degradation of plant litter on the forest floor. Her subsequent work has shed light on the seasonal chlorination and dechlorination of soil organic matter. She has also revealed that naturally produced organobromine is ubiquitous in both marine and terrestrial systems, definitively changing the view of bromine in the environment. Prof. Leri has recently turned her attention to organochlorine pollutants, specifically the by-products of disinfection in manufacturing and household processes. With undergraduates at MMC, she investigates the production of organochlorine in fabrics during laundry bleaching and organochlorine in vaginal tampons. She also studies natural bromination mechanisms in seawater and soil using a newly developed synchrotron-based technique.


Associate Professor of Chemistry

Distinguished Chair


Natural Sciences



(212) 517-0661


Ph.D., Chemistry, Princeton University (NSF Graduate Research Fellow) 

M.A., Italian, University of Virginia

B.S., Chemistry, magna cum laude, College of William and Mary


Recent Work

Publications since 2010 (* denotes MMC undergraduate co-author)      


General Chemistry I-II and associated labs 

Organic Chemistry I-II and associated labs

Energy and Climate Change

Introduction to Environmental Science

Environmental Science with an Ethical Perspective

Professional Experience

Peer Reviewing

  • Journals: Biogeosciences, Chemosphere, Environmental Science and Technology, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta

  • Funding Agencies: Czech Science Foundation, Department of Energy-Biological and Environmental Research, National Science Foundation

  • Synchrotron Facilities:  Canadian Light Source, Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Light Source 


Current Service to MMC

  • Liaison to the Environmental Consortium of Colleges and Universities, 2015-present
  • Coordinator, Environmental Studies Program, 2014-present
  • Faculty Advisor, Science Society, 2008-2011, 2014-present
  • Faculty Advisor, GoGreen Coalition, 2008-2009, 2014-present
  • Departmental Website Coordinator, 2013-present
  • Faculty Representative, Barry M. Goldwater Fellowship, 2012-present
  • Member, Academic Standing Committee, 2010-present
  • Member, Barry Commoner Lecture Series Committee, 2010-present