Professor Mason Tomson is a faculty member at Rice University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering where he has been involved in the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology. He received a BS degree in Chemistry and Mathematics from Southwestern State (Oklahoma) and a PhD in Chemistry from Oklahoma State University. His research focuses on many aspects of organic and inorganic chemical fate and transport, with emphasis on aquatic processes. He has authored or coauthored over 200 articles in high impact journals, including Science, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Environmental Science and Technology, and Oil and Gas Journal; he holds four patents, and has authored two books.
While at Rice, he has directed research grants totaling over fifteen million dollars, chaired the student health committee and co-chaired the undergraduate admissions committee. Recently, he chaired the committee to reform the Civil and Environmental Engineering curriculum and degree offerings. His 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 and activated carbon 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 presently directs five research projects: two from NSF on nanotechnology; two from EPA on heavy metals in sediments and also on nano-particle transport; and a Brine Chemistry Consortium of ten oil and gas production and service companies.
Prof. Tomson is also leading an effort to establish a joint program between Rice University and Nankai University, in Tianjin, China, on sustainable environmental development. Prof. Tomson presently serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Environmental Science and Health, SPE Production and Facilities Journal, on the Science Advisory Committee of EPA's IPEC at University of Tulsa, and on the Steering Committee of SPE Oilfield Scale Annual Conference in Scotland. Prof. Tomson has published nine peer reviewed papers in 2006, including a paper in Science. The technology, in collaboration with Dr. Vicki Colvin, was named one of the top five nanotechnology breakthroughs of 2006 by Forbes magazine and was featured in New York Times.