Sabina Rakhimbekova

Arsenic Mobility at the Groundwater-Surface Water Interface

Arsenic is a highly toxic metalloid that can be extremely harmful to humans and other organisms, even at low concentrations due to bioaccumulation. Recently, there is increasing concern about arsenic contamination as evidence of contamination is being found more frequently, worldwide. Contamination of groundwater with naturally occurring arsenic in Bangladesh, for example, caused the largest mass poisoning of the population in history, where more than 20 million people were exposed to highly elevated arsenic concentrations. The mobility of arsenic in groundwater is controlled by interacting biogeochemical and hydrological processes – these processes are complicated near surface water-groundwater interfaces due to the mixing of two water bodies under very different biogeochemical and hydrological conditions. The mixing of anoxic groundwater with oxic lake water recirculating across the sediment-water interface sets up a reaction zone characterized by sharp pH and redox gradients where a range of chemicals (e.g., arsenic) can undergoe important transformations. The objective of this research is to evaluate the ultimate source and processes controlling arsenic enrichment near the sediment-water interface at beaches of the Great Lakes. It is hypothesized that arsenic enrichment in freshwater beaches may be widespread and attributed to natural geochemical processes. Understanding the mobility of arsenic and its controlling factors can be used to develop strategies for identifying, remediating and preventing the degradation of existing and undeveloped drinking water supplies from natural sources of arsenic.

Personal Background

Sabina graduated from University of Miami in May, 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering and minors in Business Administration and Marine Science. While at University of Miami, Sabina has been actively involved in National Science Foundation Autonomous Net-Zero Water project focused on converting wastewater into potable water using low energy treatment mechanisms. Sabina also completed 6-month professional internship at Bouygues Civil Works Florida working on the Port of Miami Tunnel Project. In September 2014, Sabina was very excited to join RESTORE research group to pursue her master’s degree.


  • Merit-Based Full Presidential Scholarship “Bolashak” - 2010-2014
  • Provost’s Honor Roll and Dean’s List, University of Miami - 2010-2014
  • Chi Epsilon Honor Society, University of Miami – 2011-2013