Mason Tomson

Professor Tomson holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Mathematics and a Ph.D. in Chemistry. He teaches courses and conducts research on all aspects of organic and inorganic chemical fate and transport, with emphasis on aquatic processes. He has authored or coauthored more than 400 articles in high impact journals, including Science (2), Journal of the American Chemical Society, Environmental Science and Technology, and Oil and Gas Journal. Dr. Tomson holds numerous patents, and has authored two books (Google Scholar h-index of 52 with over 11,000 citations). While at Rice, he has directed research grants totaling over 30 to 40 million dollars, has graduated over 45 MS and PhD’s, chaired the student health committee, the Safety committee, and co-chaired the university undergraduate admissions committee, and served on Corporate Council and Graduate Committees. Recently, he chaired the committee to reform the Civil and Environmental Engineering curriculum and degree offerings and is currently the Curriculum Committee Chair.

Dr. Tomson’s research has focused around two themes, fate and transport of organic and inorganic chemicals in the environment and mechanisms of mineral scale formation and control. His research team was one of the first (circa 1978) to prove that ground water could be readily contaminated by organic chemicals from the surface. They then developed and demonstrated the concepts of facilitated (enhanced) transport and more recently of irreversible (resistant) desorption of chemicals from soils and sediments. These concepts have recently been demonstrated to apply to fullerene, activated carbon nanoparticles, soils from all over the world, and many types of nanoparticles. Chemicals that prevent mineral formation, called scale inhibitors, are used in nearly all industrial water treatment as well as in nearly every and oil or gas well in the world and Prof. Tomson has developed one of the only fundamental theories of how these chemicals work. He has directed numerous research projects, from NSF, from EPA and a Brine Chemistry Consortium of about 30 oil and gas production and service companies.   He has presented short courses on Brine Chemistry in Brazil, China, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, and all over US and annually hosts a group of 100 to 150 experts on oilfield water chemistry at Rice University to discuss progress and directions of research.  Prof. Tomson led an effort to establish a joint research program between Rice University and Nankai University, in Tianjin, China, on sustainable environmental development and a cooperative research program with Macao University CEE Dept.
Prof. Tomson presently serves on the editorial boards of J. Envi. Sci. and Health, SPE Production and Facilities Journal, on the Science Advisory Committee of EPA’s IPEC at Univ. of Tulsa, and on the Steering Committee of SPE Oilfield Scale Annual Conference in Scotland. Technology, in collaboration with Prof. Colvin, was published in Science and named top five nanotech breakthroughs of 2006 by Forbes magazine and was featured in New York Times. His research on reducing water use in fracking has been featured in the New York Times as an environmental breakthrough to reduce water use.


Research Areas

Fate and transport of organic chemicals and heavy metals in sediments and ground water; environmental impact of nano-particles; inhibition of mineral scale formation, introduction to environmental chemistry, environmental organic chemistry, advanced topics in water chemistry


Ph.D. Chemistry, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, 1972

B.S. Chemistry and Mathematics, Southwestern State College, Weatherford, Oklahoma, 1967

Societies & Organizations

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

American Chemical Society (ACS)

American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)

American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE)

Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE)


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