PhD Research - Cruz Ortiz

MS Environmental Engineering Sciences, University of Florida
BS Earth Science — Focus: Environmental Toxicology, University of California Santa Cruz

Cruz’s interests revolve around environmental remediation and developing methods to monitor the transport of environmental contaminants, in particular through soil and water. He has an extensive background in environmental toxicology and numerous experiences designing research projects that target the transport of heavy metals in terrestrial and aquatic environments. His overall experience has made him privy to environmental pollution and keen to finding practical solutions.

At the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, he designs methods to monitor the transport of agricultural nanofungacides and nanomaterials in soil and leachate. He also helped develop an environmental consulting project that monitored seasonal bioaccumulation fluctuations of heavy metals in California coastal mussels. Both of these experiences have contributed to his expertise in EPA methodologies, environmental sampling and processing, and laboratory analytical methods (ICP-MS).

In his previous research, Cruz looked at the cycling of atmospheric mercury (Hg) and its uptake in terrestrial arthropods (spiders, pill bugs, beetles). At the University of Florida, his master’s training as an Environmental Engineer led him to explore pollution control mechanisms, and the toxicity of Gas Metal Arc Welding fume particles.

Prior to his academic career Cruz was an automotive mechanic for SEARS Auto Center. As a mechanic, Cruz saw first-hand the environmental pollution generated by automotive repair. That experience helped generate his desire to understand how contaminants cycle through the environment. 

Year Admitted: 2015
Research Areas: Environmental Toxicology, Environmental Monitoring, Fate and Transport
Faculty Advisor: Arturo Keller

Office: Bren Hall 2324
Tel: 805-893-5352



Zhao, L., Ortiz, C., Adeleye, A. S., Hu, Q., Zhou, H., Huang, Y., & Keller, A. A. (2016). Metabolomics to Detect Response of Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) to Cu (OH) 2 Nanopesticides: Oxidative Stress Response and Detoxification Mechanisms. Environmental Science & Technology, 50(17), 9697-9707.

Zhao, L., Hu, J., Huang, Y., Wang, H., Adeleye, A., Ortiz, C., & Keller, A. A. (2016). 1 H NMR and GC–MS based metabolomics reveal nano-Cu altered cucumber (Cucumis sativus) fruit nutritional supply. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry.

Zhao, L., Huang, Y., Zhou, H., Adeleye, A. S., Wang, H., Ortiz, C., Mazer, S.J., & Keller, A. A. (2016). GC-TOF-MS based metabolomics and ICP-MS based metallomics of cucumber (Cucumis sativus) fruits reveal alteration of metabolites profile and biological pathway disruption induced by nano copper. Environmental Science: Nano, 3(5), 1114-1123.

Ortiz, Jr. C., Weiss-Penzias, P. S., Fork, S., & Flegal, A. R. (2014). Total and Monomethyl Mercury in Terrestrial Arthropods from the Central California Coast. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 94(4), 425-430.

Weiss-Penzias, P.S., Ortiz, Jr. C., Acosta, R.P., Heim, W., Ryan, J.P., Fernandez, D., Collett, Jr. J.L., Flegal, A.R. (2012). Total and monomethyl mercury in fog water from the central California coast. Geophysical Research Letters, 39(3). Publication: Featured in the cover of Geophysical Research Letters

Fellowship Awards

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (2014 - 2019 Fellow)
NSF Bridge to Doctorate Fellowship (2013-2015)