The Laboratory of Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology seeks to make advances in the fields of applied microbiology and molecular biotechnology and to develop innovative techniques to mitigate and address environmental issues related to water and energy. We develop water remediation techniques that deploy microorganisms to biodegrade organic pollutants of emerging global concern. We further research interdisciplinary methods to improve urban water treatment technologies, including the application of nanotechnology to disinfect supplies contaminated with pathogens, and we use biomass-derived charcoal to remove metal toxins. We employ surrogate and indicator microorganisms to investigate the potential impacts of engineered nanomaterials and disinfection byproducts once they are released into the environment. To examine the microbial processes in natural and engineered systems, we integrate conventional culture-dependent approaches with state-of-the-art high-throughput molecular technologies, such as cloning, microarray, metagenomics and next-generation sequencing. We design innovative and inexpensive genetic forensic tools for the rapid quantification of microbial populations and functions in the environment. Other projects include mitigation of biofouling in membrane-treatment facilities, the control of microbe-induced corrosion and the identification of microbial enzymes for biofuel production.
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