Rajasekhar Balasubramanian

Associate Professor & Deputy Head (Special Projects)
Program Director (B.Eng.(Environmental Engineering))
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Postal Address: Department of Civil and
  Environmental Engineering,
  National University of Singapore
  1 Engineering Drive 2, E1A 07-03
  Singapore 117576
Tel: (65) 6516 5135
Email: ceerbala@nus.edu.sg
Office: E2-02-14


Dr. Rajasekhar Bala is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, NUS. He has broad research experience and interests ranging across: Air Quality, Climate Change, Aerosol Science and Technology, Environmental and Health Risk Assessment, and Water Quality.

Dr. Bala has been actively involved in the development of the Environmental Engineering curriculum at NUS, at both undergraduate and graduate levels. He has taught a variety of courses in Environmental Science and Engineering. He has also been actively involved in promoting Environmental Education and Environmental Awareness, by giving public lectures and seminars, and contributing articles to magazines and newspapers.


  • Ph.D. (Atmospheric Chem.), University of Miami, USA, 1991
  • M.Tech. (Chem. Instmn.), IIT Delhi, India 1985
  • M.Sc. (Chem.) IIT Madras, India, 1983
  • B.Sc. (Chem), St. Xavier's College, India, 1981

Career History

  • Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, and Associate Professor, National University of Singapore (1996 -present)
  • Research Scientist, Wadsworth Center, NY State Department of Health, USA (1994 -1996)
  • Research Associate, Brookhaven National Laboratory, USA (1992-1994)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Miami, USA (1991-1992)

Academic Leadership

  • Deputy Head (Special Projects), CEE, NUS (2013 - Present )
  • Principal Investigator, CENSAM, Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research & Technology (2013-)
  • Director of Research, Minerals, Metals and Metals Technology Centre, NUS (2011-2013)
  • Director (Special Projects), CEE, NUS (2010-213)
  • Director of Undergraduate Program in Environmental Engineering (2010- Present)
  • Adjunct Research Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research, USA (2008-Present)
  • Deputy Head (Undergraduate Studies), ESE, NUS (2005-2010)
  • Chair, Curriculum Review Committee & Environmental Engineering Accreditation Committee (2008-2009; 2012-2013)
  • Chair, Faculty Search Committee, Environmental Engineering (2009)
  • Leader, International Research Project on Air Quality, Sponsored by “Sida” (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) (2000-2008)
  • Associate Director of Environmental Science and Engineering Program (ESEP), NUS (2004-2005)
  • Program Manager, M.Sc. (Environmental Engineering), ESEP - NUS (2004-2005)

Awards & Recognition

Teaching Awards

  • Teaching Honor Roll at the University level (2007)
  • NUS Annual Teaching Excellence Award (2005-2006)
  • NUS Annual Teaching Excellence Award (2004-2005)
  • NUS Annual Teaching Excellence Award (2003-2004)
  • Teaching Honor Roll at the Faculty level (2012)
  • Engineering Educator Award (2009-2010)
  • Engineering Educator Award (2006-2007)
  • Engineering Educator Award (2005-2006)
  • Engineering Educator Award (2004-2005)
  • Engineering Educator Award (2003-2004)
  • Teaching Commendation Award (2002-2003)
  • Teaching Commendation Award (2001-2002)
  • Teaching Commendation Award (2000-2001)

Research Awards

  • Invited speaker/participant at the Atmospheric Chemistry Colloquium for Emerging Senior Scientists (ACCESS I), MIT, Boston, USA (1991); this selection was made based on the quality and impact of my PhD thesis.
  • Best Paper Award, Tenth Regional IUAPPA Conference, Istanbul, Turkey (1997)
  • Prestigious Publication Award, The Institution of Engineers, Singapore (2001)
  • Best Paper Award, The Health Sciences Authority-National University of Singapore (HSA-NUS) Symposium on Environmental Health (2005)
  • Best Paper Award (Oral Presentation) at the 60th International Scientific Symposium, hosted by the Department of Community, Occupational and Family Medicine (COFM), NUS, 2008.
  • Certificate of Appreciation from the America Chemical Society in recognition of my valuable contributions and dedicated service to the peer review of manuscripts submitted to ACS journals (2012).
  • Certificate of Merit Award, Division of Environmental Chemistry, American Chemical Society (October 2013).

Student-Associated Awards

  • Research Innovation Award (1998-1999; 1999-2000; 2006-2007)
  • Best Thesis Award (2004-2005)
  • NUS Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award (2006-2007)
  • President’s Graduate Fellowship (2005-2006; 2011-2012; 2013-14)
  • Best Paper Award (Poster Presentation), ChemBioTech International Conference (2010)
  • Advisor to winner of the World Future Foundation Ph.D. prize in Sustainability and Environmental Research (Dr. He Jun, Best Ph.D. Thesis in Environmental Research, US$10,000) (AY2010-2011)
  • Advisor to winner of the World Future Foundation Ph.D. prize in Sustainability and Environmental Research (Dr. Augustine Quek, Best Ph.D. Thesis in Environmental Research, US$10,000) (AY2011-2012)
  • Advisor to winner of the World Future Foundation Ph.D. prize in Sustainability and Environmental Research (Dr. Mano Kalairasan, Best Ph.D. Thesis in Environmental Research, US$10,000) (AY2011-2012)
  • Greenwave Environment Competition Award (2010)

Service Awards

  • Long Service Award (NUS) (2012)
  • Spring-Singapore (Silver Medal (2010) and Bronze Medal (2007)) (in appreciation of my dedicated service to industry)
  • Outstanding Performance Award (Multi-tasking) from the Division of Environmental Science and Engineering (2006)

International Recognition

  • Invitation to develop and deliver graduate-level lectures related to air pollution in megacities, atmospheric aerosols, biofuels and climate change at Grenoble, France (2008- 2011). The lectures are part of a month-long course that features world-leading experts giving seminars related to atmospheric sciences to graduate students from throughout the world.
  • Coordinator of a major international project on air quality funded by SIDA (Swedish International development Agency) (2000-2008)

Membership of Editorial Board

  • Associate Editor, TheScientificWorld (Atmospheric Systems Domain) 2001-2006.
  • Guest Editor, Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Part A (2006)
  • Associate Editor, “Journal of Hazardous, Toxic and Radioactive Waste” (American Society of Civil Engineers, ASCE) (2011- Present).
  • Member, Editorial Board of the following journals:
    • Journal of International Geosciences;
    • Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A;
    • International Journal of Green Energy Energy and Environment;
    • The Open Journal of Biological and Environmental Monitoring;
    • The Open Journal of Environmental Engineering.

Professional Activities

  • Technical Assessor, Singapore Accreditation Council for accreditation of environmental testing in analytical laboratories in Singapore.
  • Chair, Clear Air Group, Environmental Engineering Society of Singapore (EESS).
  • Member, International Scientific Steering Committee, IGBP-DEBITS (Deposition of Biogeochemical Important Trace Species) 2003-Present.
  • Member, International Program Committee, "East > Asia/Northern Pacific Regional Study (APARE)", endorsed by > the IGBP (International Geosphere Biosphere Program) 2001-Present.
  • Coordinator of a multi-national and multi-investigator research program ("Composition of Asian Deposition", funded by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), 2001- Present.

Teaching Areas

  • Advanced Environmental Chemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Air Pollution Control
  • Air Pollution Control Technology
  • Atmospheric Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Technology
  • Pollution Minimization and Prevention
  • Final Year Design Project
  • Final Year Research Project

Research Interests

  • Aerosol Science &Technology
  • Ambient Air Quality
  • Atmospheric Kinetics &Photochemistry
  • Climate Change
  • Design of Practical Instruments
  • Development of Low-Cost Adsorbents
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental &Health Risk Assessment
  • Fate &Transfer of Pollutants in a Multi-Media Environment
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Regional Smoke Haze
  • Water Quality

Recent Journal Publications (2013-2014)

  1. Chowdhury, S and R Balasubramanian, "Recent advances in the use of graphene-family nanoadsorbents for removal of toxic pollutants from wastewater". Advances In Colloid and Interface Science, (2014) (in press).
  2. He, J, H Xu, R Balasubramanian, CY Chan and CJ Wang, "Comparison of NO2 and SO2 Measurements Using Different Passive Samplers in Tropical Environment". Aerosol and Air Quality Research, (2014) (in press).
  3. Zhang, ZH and R Balasubramanian, "Influence of butanol addition to diesel-biodiesel blend on engine performance and particulate emissions of a stationary diesel engine". Applied Energy, (2014) (in press).
  4. Jain, A, S Jayaraman, R Balasubramanian and MP Srinivasan, “Hydrothermal pre-treatment for mesoporous carbon synthesis: enhancement of chemical activation”. Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2 (2014): 520-528.
  5. vBehera SN, X Huang and R Balasubramanian, "Human Health Risk Associated with Exposure to Toxic Elements in Mainstream and Sidestream Cigarette Smoke Science of the Total Environment". Science of the Total Environment, 472 (2014): 947-956.
  6. Liu, Z and R Balasubramanian, "Upgrading of Waste Biomass by Hydrothermal Carbonization (HTC) and Low Temperature Pyrolysis (LTP): A Comparative Evaluation". Applied Energy, 114 (2014): 857-864.
  7. Zhang, ZH and R Balasubramanian, "Physicochemical and toxicological characteristics of particulate matter emitted from a non-road diesel engine: Comparative evaluation of biodiesel-diesel and butanol-diesel blends". Journal of Hazardous Materials, 264 (2014): 395-402.
  8. Liu, Z, TYA Quek and R Balasubramanian, "Preparation and Characterization of Fuel Pellets from Woody Biomass and Agro-residues and their Corresponding Hydrochars". Applied Energy, 113 (2014): 1315-1322.
  9. Parshetti, GK, TYA Quek, R Betha and R Balasubramanian, "TGA-FTIR investigation of co-combustion characteristics of blends of hydrothermally carbonized oil palm biomass (EFB) and coal". Fuel Processing Technology, 118 (2014): 228-234.
  10. Zhang, ZH and R Balasubramanian, "Influence of butanol-diesel blends on particulate emissions of a non-road diesel engine". Fuel, 118 (2014): 130-136.
  11. Kaushik, R and R Balasubramanian, "A comparative toxicity evaluation of Escherichia coli-targeted ssDNA and chlorine in HepG2 cells". Water Research, 48 (2014): 519-528.
  12. Atwood, SA, JS Reid, SM Kreidenweiss,, LE Yu, SV Salinas, BN Chew and R Balasubramanian, "Analysis of source regions for smoke events in Singapore for the 2009 El Nino burning season". Atmospheric Environment, 78 (2013): 219-230.
  13. Jain, A, V Aravindan, S Jayaraman, S, PS Kumar, PS, R Balasubramanian, S Ramakrishna, S Madhavi, MP Srinivasan, “Activated carbons derived from coconut shells as high energy density cathode material for Li-ion capacitors”. Scientific Reports Article 3, (2013) Number: 3002 DOI: 10.1038/srep03002
  14. Pavagadhi, S and R Balasubramanian, "Toxicological evaluation of microcystins in aquatic fish species: Current Knowledge and Future Directions". Aquatic Toxicology, 142-143 (2013): 1-16.
  15. Liu, Z and R Balasubramanian, "A comparison of thermal behaviors of raw biomass, pyrolytic biochar and their blends with lignite". Bioresource Technology, 146 (2013): 371-378.
  16. Pavagadhi, S, S Natera, U Roessner and R Balasubramanian, "Insights into metabolic perturbations in zebrafish tissues upon exposure to microcystin-LR and microcystin-RR". Environmental Science & Technology, 47 (2013): 14376-14384.
  17. Kuppusamy, V and R Balasubramanian, "A Comparative Evaluation of Sorbents for the Treatment of Complex Metal-bearing Laboratory Wastewaters". Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 1 (2013): 473-479.
  18. Betha, R and R Balasubramanian, "PM2.5 Emissions from Hand-held Sparklers: Chemical Characterization and Health Risk Assessment". Aerosol and Air Quality Research, 13 (2013): 301-307.
  19. Balasubramanian, R, K Sathrugnan, JR Potter, O Wurl and C Durville, "Chemical Characterization of aerosols collected in the Equatorial Atmosphere over the Indian Ocean". Atmospheric Environment, 78 (2013): 268-276.
  20. Liu, Z and R Balasubramanian, "A comparative study of nitrogen conversion during pyrolysis of raw biomass, its corresponding biochar and their blends with lignite". Bioresource Technology, 108 (2013): 74-81.
  21. Pavagadhi, S, ZY Gong and R Balasubramanian, "Toxicological implications of microcystins for zebrafish embryos in the presence of other environmental pollutants". Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 32 (2013): 1574-1581.
  22. Pavagadhi, S, ALL Tang, S Muthuswamy, K P Loh and R Balasubramanian, "Removal of Microcystin-LR and Microcystin-RR by Graphene Oxide: Adsorption and Kinetic Experiments". Water Research, 47 (2013): 46521-4629.
  23. Parshetti, GK, Z Liu, A Jain, M P Srinivasan and R Balasubramanian, "Hydrothermal carbonization of sewage sludge for energy production with coal". Fuel, 111 (2013): 201-210.
  24. Behera, SN, M Sharma, VP Aneja and R Balasubramanian, "Ammonia in the Atmosphere: A Review on Emission Sources, Atmospheric Chemistry and Deposition on Terrestrial Bodies". Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 20(11) (2013): 8092-8131.
  25. Behera, SN, R Betha and R Balasubramanian, "Insights into Chemical Coupling among Acidic Gases, Ammonia and Secondary Inorganic Aerosols". Aerosol and Air Quality Research, 13(4) (2013): 1282-1296.
  26. Kaushik, R and R Balasubramanian, "Methods and Approaches Used For Detection of Cynaotoxins In Environmental Samples: A Review". Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 43 (2013): 1349-1383.
  27. Liu, Z, TYA Quek, GK Parshetti, A Jain, MP Srinivasan, SK Hoekman and R Balasubramanian, "A study of nitrogen conversion and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) emissions during hydrochar-lignite co-pyrolysis". Applied Energy, 108 (2013): 74-81.
  28. Zuo, XJ and R Balasubramanian, "Evaluation of a novel polymer-based adsorbent for the removal of chromium (III) in aqueous solutions". Carbohydrate Polymers, 92 (2013): 2181-2186.
  29. Betha, R and R Balasubramanian, "Particulate Emissions From Commercial Handheld Sparklers: Evaluation of Physical Characteristics and Emission Rates". Aerosol and Air Quality Research, 13 (2013): 301-307.
  30. Quek, TYA and R Balasubramanian, "Liquefaction of waste tires by pyrolysis for oil and chemicals – a review". Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, 101 (2013): 1-16.
  31. Parshetti, GK, S Kent Koekman and R Balasubramanian, "Chemical, structural and combustion characteristics of carbonaceous products obtained by hydrothermal carbonization of palm empty fruit bunches". Bioresource Technology, 135 (2013): 683-689.
  32. Behera SN, R Betha, P Liu and R Balasubramanian, "A Study of Diurnal Variations of PM2.5 Acidity and Related Chemical Species Using a New Thermodynamic Equilibrium Model". Science of the Total Environment, 452-453 (2013): 286-295.
  33. Liu, Z, TYA Quek, S Kent Hoekman and R Balasubramanian, "Production of solid biochar fuel from waste biomass by hydrothermal carbonization". Fuel, 103 (2013): 943-949.
  34. Betha, R and R Balasubramanian, "Emissions of particulate-bound elements from biodiesel and ultra low sulfur diesel: Size distribution and risk assessment". Chemosphere, 90 (2013): 1005-1015.
  35. Pavagadhi, S, R Betha, V Shriram, R Balasubramanian and M P Hande, "Physicochemical and Toxicological Characteristics of Urban Aerosols during a Recent Indonesian Biomass Burning Episode". Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 20 (2013): 2569-2578.
  36. Kaushik, R and R Balasubramanian, "Discrimination of viable from non-viable Gram-negative bacterial pathogens in Airborne Particles using Propidium Monoazide-assisted qPCR". Science of the Total Environment, 449 (2013): 237-243.
  37. Betha, R, M Pradani, P Lestari, U M Joshi, JS Reid and R Balasubramanian, "Chemical speciation of trace metals emitted from Indonesian peat fires for health risk assessment". Atmospheric Research, 122 (2013): 571-578.
  38. Reid, JS et al "Observing and understanding the Southeast Asian aerosol system by remote sensing: An initial review and analysis for the Seven Southeast Asian Studies (7SEAS) program". Atmospheric Research, 122 (2013): 403-468.
  39. Betha, R, D Spracklen and R Balasubramanian, "Observations of New Particle Formation in the Urban Tropical Atmosphere of Singapore". Atmospheric Environment, 71 (2013): 340-351.

Last Updated on 6 January 2014, by Department of Civil and Environmental Enginering