Best Papers from 2018 in the Environmental Science Family of Journals: Great Science with a Global Reach

During 2018, the RSC Environmental Science family of journals published 550 papers. The topics discussed within these papers spanned length scales covering more than fifteen orders of magnitude, from sub-nanometre (<10−9 m) to thousands of kilometres (>106 m).

The subject matter coverage was equally broad, ranging from atmospheric pollutant transport to urine purification for resource recovery, and further to the environmental impacts of nanoplastics. This year, to try and highlight some of the incredible science being published in our journals, we are introducing the Environmental Science Best Paper Initiative.

The editorial teams of Environmental Science: Nano, Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, and Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology set out to identify not only the best papers within each journal, but also to select a single paper across the entire family of journals to specifically highlight as transformative. To do this, we asked the Advisory Boards of each journal to evaluate the top-reviewed papers published in 2018. Our three Advisory and Editorial Boards rose to the challenge beautifully, short-listing the top papers and review articles in each journal. The group of Editors-in-Chief then individually evaluated those selections to arrive at the Best Paper, Best Paper Runner-up, and Best Review Article for each of the Environmental Science journals. Once the individual journal selections were finalized, each of the top papers was further evaluated by the Editors-in-Chief to select one final Best Paper:

Overall Best Paper

Findlay, Freitas, Mobed-Miremadi and Wheeler, Machine learning provides predictive analysis into silver nanoparticle protein corona formation from physicochemical properties, Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2018, 5, 64–71, DOI: 10.1039/C7EN00466D.

In this paper, Wheeler and colleagues utilized random forest classification as a tool to predict the composition of the protein corona that forms around nanomaterials. This work struck us as particularly important given the fact that these protein coronas are absolutely critical for determining a nanoparticle's fate and its impact on biota. To date, the formation of protein coronas have been essentially impossible to predict, given their dependence on the nanoparticle itself, solution characteristics, and the proteins present. This new machine learning method offers not only a predictive method, but a way to identify which aspects of the particles or the surroundings control corona formation. One implication of this work is that it lays the ground work for new methods for nanomaterial design that take the formation of protein coronas into account.

Journal Best Papers

In addition to our overall Best Paper, we are thrilled to introduce our readers to the following Best Papers and Best Review Articles for each of the Environmental Science journals.

Environmental Science: Nano

Best Paper: Findlay, Freitas, Mobed-Miremadi and Wheeler, Machine learning provides predictive analysis into silver nanoparticle protein corona formation from physicochemical properties, Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2018, 5, 64–71, DOI: 10.1039/C7EN00466D.

Runner-up Best Paper: Mintenig, Bäuerlein, Koelmans, Dekker and van Wezel, Closing the gap between small and smaller: towards a framework to analyse nano- and microplastics in aqueous environmental samples, Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2018, 5, 1640–1649, DOI: 10.1039/C8EN00186C.

Best Review Article: Zhang, Guo, Li, Wang and Liu, The effects and the potential mechanism of environmental transformation of metal nanoparticles on their toxicity in organisms, Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2018, 5, 2482–2499, DOI: 10.1039/C8EN00688A.

Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts

Best Paper: Sumner and Plata, Exploring the hydraulic fracturing parameter space: a novel high-pressure, high-throughput reactor system for investigating subsurface chemical transformations, Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2018, 20, 318–331, DOI:10.1039/C7EM00470B.

Runner-up Best Paper: Shunthirasingham, Alexandrou, Brice, Dryfhout-Clark, Su, Shin, Park, Pajda, Noronha and Hung, Temporal trends of halogenated flame retardants in the atmosphere of the Canadian Great Lakes Basin (2005–2014), Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2018, 20, 469–479, DOI: 10.1039/C7EM00549K.

Best Review Article: Ashauer and Jager, Physiological modes of action across species and toxicants: the key to predictive ecotoxicology, Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2018, 20, 48–57, DOI: 10.1039/C7EM00328E.

Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology

Best Paper: Gao, Sun, Wang, Lu, Ma, Wang, Ren, Liang, Zhang, Chen and Huang, Urine-powered synergy of nutrient recovery and urine purification in a microbial electrochemical system, Environ. Sci.: Water Res. Technol., 2018, 4, 1427–1438, DOI:10.1039/C8EW00306H.

Runner-up Best Paper: Li, Xu, Schlenk and Liu, Cyto- and geno-toxicity of 1,4-dioxane and its transformation products during ultraviolet-driven advanced oxidation processes, Environ. Sci.: Water Res. Technol., 2018, 4, 1213–1218, DOI: 10.1039/C8EW00107C.

Best Review Article: Muerdter, Wong and LeFevre, Emerging investigator series: the role of vegetation in bioretention for stormwater treatment in the built environment: pollutant removal, hydrologic function, and ancillary benefits, Environ. Sci.: Water Res. Technol., 2018, 4, 592–612, DOI: 10.1039/C7EW00511C.

These papers collectively illustrate that great science originates from across the globe and from a range of institutions, including from a university that focuses primarily on undergraduate students. We are proud to be the home of this diverse set of outstanding work, and honored that the authors have entrusted us with the fruits of their hard work and dedication. Finally, we are delighted to celebrate these great papers with you, the readers of the Environmental Science journals of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

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