Helene Walch

Helene Walch

University of Vienna



Helene is a PhD student at University of Vienna, Department of Environmental Geosciences, working with Univ.-Prof. Dr. Thilo Hofmann. She is part of NanoFASE WP8.

During my Bachelor studies in Environmental and Bioresource Management at the University of Life Sciences (BOKU) Vienna I found out that I am passionate about environmental chemistry, fate and behavior of pollutants, especially in soils and aqueous systems. Hence, I went on with a Masters in Environmental Sciences at the University of Vienna, where I focused on pollution and remediation in soils and aqueous systems and did my Master’s thesis on the fate and behavior of nanopesticides in soils. Now I am following up on nanoparticle fate in aqueous systems as a PhD student within the NanoFASE project. Trying to keep up with my interdisciplinary background, I am also very interested in environmental risk assessment, ecotoxicology and legal regulations.

For NanoFASE I am working on the heteroaggregation of engineered nanoparticles (ENP) with natural suspended matter (SPM) in surface freshwater systems. The aim is to determine the attachment affinity between ENP and SPM as an input parameter for the NanoFASE ENP fate model. I am planning on using a stirred batch setup and sp-ICP-MS to measure the ENP removal from suspension due to aggregation.

The biggest challenge I am facing is the complexity of the system I am studying: The wide range of natural hydrochemistries and -dynamics, ENP as well as SPM properties makes it hard to deduce a relevant model system. Furthermore working with particles instead of dissolved pollutants poses analytical and experimental challenges.

When not studying nanoparticles, I enjoy sports (especially in the mountains), travelling, photography, my little nieces – and sometimes clearing away cow dung at my parents’ farm, which turns out to be a good distraction from mental work ;-)