Philippe Van Cappellen (He/Him)

Philippe Van Cappellen
Professor, Canada Excellence Research Chair Laureate in Ecohydrology
Location: EIT 1006 & PHY 3002
Status: Active


Philippe Van Cappellen leads an interdisciplinary research team focusing on the biogeochemical processes that control water quality, ecosystem functions and environmental change, from local to global scales. His research portfolio includes soils, rivers, lakes, aquifers, coastal ecosystems, and urban water systems.

Professor Van Cappellen is the Canada Excellence Research Chair Laureate in Ecohydrology at the University of Waterloo.

Research Interests

  • Environmental and aquatic chemistry, biogeochemistry, geomicrobiology.
  • Carbon and nutrient biogeochemical cycles.
  • Climate change.
  • Fate and transport of metals and metalloids in the environment.
  • Biogeochemical kinetics: reactor systems and theory development.
  • Reactive transport modeling.
  • Regional and global up\/down scaling of biog
  • Contamination & Remediation: Water, Soil, Air
  • Increasingly Complex Water Challenges
  • Protection of Surface and Groundwater Resources
  • Protection of Drinking Water from the Ravages of Climate Change
  • Threats to Aquatic Ecosystems and their Interaction
  • Conservation
  • Geohazards: Risks and Prevention
  • Managing the Risk of Human Activity in Aquatic Ecosystems
  • Sustainable Water Use and Management
  • Legacies of Agriculture Pollutants
  • Water Security in Mega Cities

Scholarly Research

Van Cappellen combines laboratory studies with field observations and modeling to predictively understand the biogeochemical processes that regulate water chemistry, nutrient cycling, geomicrobial activity and mineral transformations in agricultural and urban landscapes, lentic and lotic systems, and coastal marine environments. His work further includes the reaction kinetics and environmental fate and transport of a range of trace elements and contaminants (As, Se, Hg, Sb, Cr, hydrocarbons, nanomaterials), the calibration of geochemical (paleo)proxies, and the development of new water quality sensors. His model applications cover spatial and temporal scales ranging from molecular interactions at the cell-mineral-water interface to the geological evolution of the Earth’s surface system.


  • 1991, Doctorate Geochemistry, Yale University, United States
  • 1981, Master of Science Geology & Mineralogy, Free University of Brussels, Belgium
  • 1981, Bachelor of Science (BSc) Geology & Mineralogy, Free University of Brussels, Belgium


  • 2023 Excellence in Science Research Award, Faculty of Science, University of Waterloo
  • 2022 J. Tuzo Wilson Medal, Canadian Geophysical Union
  • 2021 Fellow, American Geophysical Union
  • 2020 Excellence in Graduate Supervision Award, University of Waterloo
  • 2019 Third Prize, Global WaterTech Challenge, Nanjing, China
  • 2018 Honorary Professor, Tianjin University, China
  • 2017 Outstanding Performance Award, University of Waterloo
  • 2015 Fellow, Royal Society of Canada
  • 2015 Science Innovation Award & Werner Stumm Medal, European Association of Geochemistry (EAG)
  • 2015 Geochemical Fellow, Geochemical Society & EAG
  • 2015 Woo Lecturer, Hydrology Section, Canadian Geophysical Union
  • 2012 Adrian Smith Lecturer, University of Waterloo
  • 2011 Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Ecohydrology
  • 2010 Sankey L. Blanton Jr. Lecturer, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • 2008 Georgia Power Chair and GRA Eminent Scholar in Global Change Studies
  • 2007 André Dumont Medal, Geologica Belgica
  • 2001 Alan Berman Research Publication Award, Naval Research Laboratory, USA
  • 2000 Pioneer Award, Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
  • 2000 Schweppe Distinguished Lecturer, University of Texas
  • 1998 Advanced Research Scholarship, Ministry of Education & Research, France
  • 1996 Sigma Xi Young Faculty Award, Georgia Tech
  • 1990 Philip M. Orville Prize for Outstanding Research, Yale University
  • 1989 William E. Ford Prize for Excellence in Mineralogy, Yale University
  • 1988 Outstanding Student Paper Award, American Geophysical Union
  • 1985 Herbert C. Hoover Fellowship, Belgian American Educational Foundation
  • 1981 Highest Distinction, MSc. degree, Free University of Brussels


  • 2022-now Waterloo Awards Committee
  • 2022-now Applied Geochemistry: Strategic Advisory Board (co-chair)
  • 2022-now American Geophysical Union - Biogeosciences Division: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee
  • 2021-now Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR, France): Sustainable Science Committee
  • 2020-now International Union of Geological Sciences: Hydrogeology Working Group (co-lead)
  • 2019-2021 International Consortium on Cold Region Ecohydrology (co-lead)
  • 2018-now Institute of Surface-Earth System Science, Tianjin University: International Advisory Committee
  • 2016-now Global Water Futures: Strategic Management Committee
  • 2016-now Global Water Futures: Core modeling team - water quality (lead)
  • 2015-2019 International Society for Environmnetal Biogeochemistry: Vice-President then President
  • 2013-now Water Institute: Senior Management Board & Strategic Planning Committee

Professional Associations

  • American Geophysical Union
  • Canadian Geophysical Union
  • European Association of Geochemistry

Affiliations and Volunteer Work

  • Cross-appointed to the Department of Biology (professor)
  • Water Institute (member)
  • Waterloo Centre for Microbial Research (member)
  • Waterloo Climate Institute (member)


  • EARTH 322 - Ecohydrology
    • Taught in 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024
  • EARTH 652 - Reactive Transport Modelling
    • Taught in 2020, 2022

* Only courses taught in the past 5 years are displayed.

Selected/Recent Publications

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