Ph.D., B.S., Mississippi State University; A.A., Copiah-Lincoln Community College


Chemistry I/ Lab, Chemistry II/ Lab, General Organic Biochemistry/ Lab, Quantitative Analysis/ Lab, Instrumental Analysis/ Lab, Environmental Chemistry, Chemistry Seminar Series


A scientist in his laboratory is not a mere technician: he is also a child confronting natural phenomena that impress him as though they were fairy tales.”- Marie Curie

My research interests hinge around water cleanup, soil amendment, and environmental conservation. Chemistry is a central science that ties all these interests together. It brings me great joy to study chemical in the laboratory and then relay this experience to my students whether the classroom, lab, or undergraduate research.

Research Interests:

My research is divided into 2 categories of worldwide concern:

1) Developing biochar-based materials for removal of environmental contaminants from water

Biochar is the product of incomplete combustion through pyrolysis of highly organic material and is heralded as carbon neutral and low cost. Biochar’s production method and feedstock play an important role in its properties, such as high surface area and porosity. Parent materials range from manure to spent plant material. Biochar’s functionalization and native high surface area set it apart from activated carbon and graphite, both of which are carbonaceous materials, but lack the carboxylic surface groups that dominate biochar. This functionality allows biochar to effectively remove many water contaminants including heavy metals, radio nuclides, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and dyes. Additionally, biochar is selective, less expensive, totally green and has a lower reactivation cost as compared to activated carbon, the current state of the art sorbent. Biochar’s chemical structure and morphology are shown in Figure 1a and b below.

Figure 1a.  
Proposed chemical structure of biochar


Figure 1b.  SEM image of douglas fir biochar at 2500x magnification using a JEOL JSM-6500F FE-SEM operated at 5 kV10

2) Development of a personal drinking water purifier (Lifestraw) using biochar (for both biological and chemical agents) from readily available resources.

Waterborne parasitic protozoan diseases are a cause of epidemic in developed and developing countries. According to the WHO, they are the reason for the 4 billion cases of diarrhea and 1.6 million deaths annually. Improved sanitation and water supplies are the main safety measures against infection.

Developing a widely available and inexpensive version of the lifestraw that would effectively filter out heavy metals and harmful ions would help in this particular effort. One particular design feature of this product would be the ability for individuals to construct their own biochar filter from readily available agricultural waste available in areas of need to replace their spent straw filters. Figure 2 shows a lifestraw being used to provide clean water in areas of need.

Figure 2.  Lifestraw providing safe water in areas of low availability

Published Manuscripts:

  • First records of Phoebis agarithe (Lepidoptera: Pieridae: Coliadinae) in Mississippi and of Ascia monuste (Lepidoptera: Pieridae: Pierinae) in northern Mississippi Glenn B. Crisler II and Terence L. Schiefer- News of the Lepidopterists’ Society
  • Lead removal using biochars obtained from slow pyrolysis of dry and soaked pecan shell biomass Glenn B. Crisler II, Griffin A. Burk, Patrice Simmons, and Todd Mlsna – Journal of Separation Science and Technology.
  • Phosphate in soils: An undergraduate exploration according to soil texture and amendment Glenn B. Crisler II, Cintly Guzman Hernandez, Andre Orr, Roger Davis, Jessie Moore, James Smith, Deb Mlsna, Jac Varco, Ashli Brown, Todd Mlsna, and Deb Mlsna – Journal of Chemical Education.
  • Cadmium and copper removal from aqueous solutions using chitosan-coated gasifier biochar Griffin A. Burk, Glenn B. Crisler II, David Bridges, Shivani Patel, Charles U. Pittman Jr., and Todd Mlsna - Frontiers in Environmental Science

Additional Contributions to Published Work

  • Effect of biochar on microbial growth: A metabolomics and bacteriological investigation in E. coli Rebecca Hill, John Hunt, Emily Sanders, Melanie Tran, Griffin A Burk, Todd E. Mlsna, Nicholas C. Fitzkee- Journal of Environmental Science and Technology