Associate Professor Naresh Singhal

BTech, MS, MA, PhD


I joined the University of Auckland in 1996 and currently hold the position of Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. I am involved in teaching, research and service at the university. My teaching interests cover a mix of undergraduate and postgraduate courses relating to natural and engineered environmental processes, modelling of surface water quality in lakes and rivers, and the industry based capstone project. I had chaired the committee that formulated the idea and content of the capstone project, and am currently co-chairing a review of the BE curriculum, which has led to the formulation of a new BE in Structural Engineering. I am also a member of postgraduate curriculum review committee and am working on developing a new named masters degree in environmental engineering.

My research activities are curiosity driven and I take delight in applying an understanding of the principles governing the response of natural and engineered environmental systems to develop innovative solutions. My research interests broadly fall into three areas - biological treatment processes, chemical treatment processes, and remediation of contaminated soil and groundwater. 

In additon to the contributions I make to the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, I am a member of the Faculty Staffing and the Faculty Research Development Fund committees in Science. I have been a Review Editor for Frontiers in Environmental Science from 2015 and a Review Editor of Frontiers in Microbiotechnology, Ecotoxicology and Bioremediation from 2013. I am also a member of the International Editorial Advisory Board for Environmental Engineering Research from 2013. I have reviewed applications submitted to the MBIE Endeavour Fund since 2006, and research proposals submitted to funding bodies in the USA, Austria, Switzerland, Israel, Qatar, and UAE.

PhD in Civil Engineering, Princeton University (1995)
MA in Civil Engineering, Princeton University (1990)
MS in Civil Engineering, Louisiana State University (1986)
BTech in Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (1985)

Research | Current

My three main areas of research are:

(i) Biological treatment processes: The two main areas of thrust for my group are (a) stimulating in-vivo enzyme synthesis (e.g. oxidoreductases, peroxidases) to enhance the biodegradation of bioactive and recalcitrant contaminants of emerging concern, CECs (e.g. antibiotics, anti-depressants, plastic additives, statins), and (b) use of synthetic biology and bioinformatics tools to decipher intracellular processes (e.g., using genome-scale  constrained-based  metabolic models to interpret N2O production in biological systems).

Example publications:

  • Bains, A., Perez-Garcia, O., Lear, G., Swift, S., Middleditch, M., Kolodziej, E., Singhal, N. (2019). Induction of microbial oxidative stress as a new strategy to enhance the enzymatic degradation of organic micropollutants in wastewater. BioRxiv.
  • Perez-Garcia, O., Mankelow, C., Chandran, K., Villas-Boas, S. G., & Singhal, N. (2017). Modulation of Nitrous Oxide (N2O) Accumulation by Primary Metabolites in Denitrifying Cultures Adapting to Changes in Environmental C and N. Environmental Science & Technology, 51(23), 13678–13688.

(ii) Chemical treatment processes: the two main areas for my group are (a) use of catalysts (e.g. Fe-TAML) and oxidants (e.g. radicals produced by Fenton’s reaction) to lower the bioactivity and toxicity of CECs by determining the transformation pathways and associated change in estrogenicity, and (b) water purification by selective recovery of specific cations and anions from industrial and dairy effluent.

Example publications:

  • Liu, J., Hernández, S. E., Swift, S., & Singhal, N. (2018). Estrogenic activity of cylindrospermopsin and anatoxin-a and their oxidative products by FeIII-B*/H2O2. Water Research, 132, 309–319.
  • Onundi, Y., Drake, B. A., Malecky, R. T., DeNardo, M. A., Mills, M. R., Kundu, S., … Singhal, N., & Collins, T. J. (2017). A multidisciplinary investigation of the technical and environmental performances of TAML/peroxide elimination of Bisphenol A compounds from water. Green Chemistry, 19(18), 4234–4262.
  • Chen, J. L., Ravindran, S., Swift, S., Wright, L. J., & Singhal, N. (2012). Catalytic oxidative degradation of 17α-ethinylestradiol by FeIII-TAML/H2O2: Estrogenicities of the products of partial, and extensive oxidation. Water Research, 46(19), 6309–6318.

(iii) Remediation of contaminated soil and groundwater: My interests lie in finding ways to influence the mechanisms of contaminant uptake and degradation by plants and microorganisms. We have explored bio-augmentation strategies alter the uptake of heavy metals by plants. The transport of organic contaminants and their biodegradation in soil is particular interest of mine. In the past, we have developed a novel instrument (optrode, an optical probe) for in-situ measurement of bacterial activity and chemical concentration to examine interactions occurring at the pore scale.

Example publications:

  • Johnson, A. C., & Singhal, N. (2013). Influence of Chelation on Cu Distribution and Barriers to Translocation in Lolium perenneEnvironmental Science & Technology, 47(14), 7688–7695.
  • Hewitt, B. M., Singhal, N., Elliot, R. G., Chen, A. Y. H., Kuo, J. Y. C., Vanholsbeeck, F., & Swift, S. (2012). Novel fiber optic detection method for in situ analysis of fluorescently labeled biosensor organisms. Environmental Science and Technology, 46(10).
  • Gunawardana, B., Singhal, N., & Johnson, A. (2010). Amendments and their combined application for enhanced copper, cadmium, lead uptake by Lolium perennePlant and Soil, 329(1).

Postgraduate supervision

PhD students

  • Anthea Johnson
  • Buddhika Gunawardana
  • Farhans Shams
  • Anushka Elangasinghe
  • Cody Mankelow
  • Raul Octavio Perez
  • Sabrina Karim
  • Yusuf Onundi
  • Sanjay Kaushal
  • Aditi Borker

ME students

  • Aditya Veer
  • Miriam Tailby


  • Association of Pacific Rim Universities Fellowship, The University of Auckland (2000)
  • Emerging Research Excellence Award, The University of Auckland (2000)
  • Edward Clarence Dyason Universitas 21 Fellowship, University of Melbourne (2003)
  • Top Twenty Lecturers, Faculty of Engineering, The University of Auckland (2003)
  • Mid-career Strategic Support Award, The University of Auckland (2005)


  • Leader, Environmental Engineering programme
  • Manager, Environmental Engineering laboratory
  • Department Postgraduate Adviser (Taught programmes)


Areas of expertise

Environmental remediation and treatment technologies, environmental impact assessment, solid waste management, wastewater treatment, surface water and groundwater modelling.

Committees/Professional groups/Services


  • Board of Graduate Studies, The University of Auckland (2010 – 2011)
  • Executive Committee, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Auckland (2010 - present)
  • Scholarships Sub-committee, The University of Auckland (2010 – 2011)

Professional groups

  • Board of Centre for Microbial Innovation, The University of Auckland (2011 - present)
  • Editorial Board of Air, Soil and Water Research (2012 - present)
  • Editorial Board of Environmental Engineering Research Journal (2011 - present)
  • Editorial Board of the Journal of Environmental Engineering and Ecological Science (2011 - present)

Professional affiliations

  • American Chemical Society
  • American Geophysical Union
  • International Water Association
  • National Ground Water Association
  • Australasian Association for Engineering Education

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Mery-Araya, C., Lear, G., Perez-Garcia, O., Astudillo-Garcia, C., & Singhal, N. (2019). Using carbon substrate as a selection pressure to enhance the potential of aerobic granular sludge microbial communities for removing contaminants of emerging concern. Bioresource technology, 29010.1016/j.biortech.2019.121705
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Carmen Astudillo Garcia, Gavin Lear
  • Bains, A., Perez-Garcia, O., Lear, G., Greenwood, D., Swift, S., Middleditch, M., ... Singhal, N. (2019). Induction of Microbial Oxidative Stress as a New Strategy to Enhance the Enzymatic Degradation of Organic Micropollutants in Synthetic Wastewater. Environmental science & technology, 53 (16), 9553-9563. 10.1021/acs.est.9b02219
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: David Greenwood, Gavin Lear, Simon Swift
  • Wang, K., Larkin, T., Singhal, N., & Zhuang, T. (2019). Amendment of municipal sewage sludge with lime and mussel shell: Effects on fate of organic matter and pharmaceutically active compounds. Waste management (New York, N.Y.), 85, 272-282. 10.1016/j.wasman.2018.12.035
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Tam Larkin
  • Gunawardana, B., Swedlund, P. J., & Singhal, N. (2019). Effect of O<inf>2</inf>, Ni<sup>0</sup> coatings, and iron oxide phases on pentachlorophenol dechlorination by zero-valent iron. Environmental Science and Pollution Research10.1007/s11356-019-06009-w
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Peter Swedlund
  • Smith, H., Graham-Murdoch, T., Clarke, R., Singhal, N., Clark, A., Suresh, V., ... Waite, S. (2018). Determining effective placement strategies for denitrifying bioreactors in New Zealand river systems. Paper presented at 2018 Joint NZSA and ORSNZ Conference, Palmerston North. 27 November - 30 November 2018. (pp. 12). Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Vinod Suresh, Alys Clark, Andrew Mason, Richard Clarke
  • Gunawardana, B., Swedlund, P. J., Singhal, N., & Nieuwoudt, M. K. (2018). Pentachlorophenol dechlorination with zero valent iron: a Raman and GCMS study of the complex role of surficial iron oxides. Environmental science and pollution research international, 25 (18), 17797-17806. 10.1007/s11356-018-2003-5
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Peter Swedlund, Michel Nieuwoudt
  • Shams, D. F., Singhal, N., & Elefsiniotis, P. (2018). Effect of feed characteristics and operational conditions on treatment of dairy farm wastewater in a coupled anoxic-upflow and aerobic system. Biochemical Engineering Journal, 133, 186-195. 10.1016/j.bej.2018.02.012
  • Wang, K., Larkin, T., Singhal, N., & Song, Y. (2018). Mobility of pharmaceutical and personal care products in lime amended wastewater biosolids. The Science of the total environment, 624, 1263-1273. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.12.243
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Tam Larkin


Contact details

Primary office location

2-6 PARK AVENUE - Bldg 529
Level 1, Room 115A
New Zealand

Web links