Steven Siciliano

Steven Siciliano

Department of Soil Science
University of Saskatchewan

Chair title

NSERC/Co-op Industrial Research Chair in In Situ Remediation and Risk Assessment

Chair program

Industrial Research Chairs program


Senior Chairholder since 2015


For the past decade, Chairholder Steve Siciliano has led multidisciplinary research teams investigating the relationship between humans and soil, with a focus on how risks associated with contaminated soil sites can be reduced.

Canada has more than 30,000 former gas station sites contaminated with hydrocarbons or other pollutants. These brownfield sites pose an enormous social and economic cost to cities, towns and villages. In collaboration with Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL), this innovative research program will improve how we clean up and manage these sites in a safe and sustainable manner—without negatively impacting the environment, transferring contaminated soil to a landfill or disrupting business activities on site.

In the first term of this Industrial Research Chair (IRC) program, Siciliano’s team developed and demonstrated a reliable technique to reduce hydrocarbons by over 90 per cent at six sites impacted by gasoline or diesel. The goal of the second term is to develop approaches—such as the use of biological stimulants and nutrients—to further increase hydrocarbon degradation at sites where traditional approaches have proven ineffective and reduce hydrocarbons in soil to minimal levels.

Siciliano hypothesizes that there is an optimal balance of fertilizer components, such as phosphate, magnesium, citrate, sulfate, iron and nitrate, that will stimulate a robust degrading microbial community. He will develop new ways to calculate this optimal balance across the many Prairie soil types and examine how minerals control remediation.

To develop the new calculations, the team will identify the balance of microbes and ions associated with successful remediation and then create a new fertilizer mix that will stimulate successful remediation across western Canada. At the conclusion of this second IRC, the team will have developed, deployed and validated an economically viable approach to petroleum hydrocarbon remediation.

FCL aims to provide its co-operative members and western Canadian communities with economically and environmentally sustainable remediation practices. By collaborating on this research, FCL will help develop the technologies needed to remediate complex urban sites in a safe, more cost-effective and environmentally sound way. FCL is confident the research being conducted will lead to significant long-term savings in the costs required to successfully manage contaminated sites.

The IRC program provides a bridge for students to cross from their academic training to employment in their chosen field of study. The first IRC term provided training for 36 personnel, of whom 20 were women, and the second phase envisions training an additional 19 to 40 personnel. Students readily found employment in the environmental sector because they work closely with industry, building soft skills and a business network.


  • Federated Co-operatives Limited

Contact information

Department of Soil Science
University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan



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