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Isabelle M Cozzarelli, Ph.D.

Isabelle Cozzarelli is a Research Hydrologist with the USGS Geology, Energy & Minerals (GEM) Science Center in Reston, VA.

Isabelle uses a combined field and laboratory experimental approach to investigate biogeochemical processes in shallow groundwater and surface water environments that affect water availability. She uses a multi-disciplinary and multi-scale approach to study processes in environments stressed by anthropogenic inputs of biodegradable carbon, such as crude oil, landfill leachate, and oil and gas wastes.


  • Ph.D. University of Virginia, Environmental Sciences-Geochemistry, 1993
  • M.S. University of Virginia, Environmental Sciences-Geochemistry, 1986
  • B.S. University of Rochester, Geomechanics, 1983

Work Experience

  • 2020-present: Research Hydrologist, USGS, Geology, Energy & Minerals Science Center, Reston, VA, USA
  • 2017-2020: Research Hydrologist, USGS Water Mission Area Headquarters, Reston, VA, USA
  • 1985-2017: Research Hydrologist, USGS National Research Program, USGS, Reston, Virginia, USA
  • 1983-1985: Research Assistant, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

Professional Affiliations

  • 2016-present: Adjunct Faculty, Department of Geosciences, Virginia Tech


  • 2017: USGS Meritorious Service Award
  • 2005: Elected GSA Fellow
  • 2005: USGS Superior Service Award

Work Assignment

As a research hydrologist in the Geology, Energy, and Minerals Science Center I conduct long-term research on the fate and geochemical effect of organic contaminants in surface and subsurface environments. I use a combined field and laboratory approach in a variety of hydrogeologic environments in order to meet these objectives. I am currently a principal investigator for projects at unconventional oil and gas (UOG) drilling and disposal sites, the Bemidji, MN crude oil spill site and landfill-leachate and wastewater affected sites. My research at these sites focuses on the long-term evolution of biogeochemical zones in the aquifers and the natural attenuation of contaminants. The impact of chemical heterogeneity and the availability of electron acceptors on the extent of biodegradation have been a major thrust of my work. I have also studied aquifers affected by creosote and gasoline releases, with an emphasis on understanding the fate of metabolites in shallow aquifers.

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