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Research Interests

General Research Statement

Bacteria are both agents of environmental restoration and agents of environmental degradation. For the former, bacteria in nature cycle nutrients and transform pollutants; our interest is in developing a predictive understanding of bacterial distribution and function in natural and polluted environments. For the latter, bacteria in human waste are indicative of disease-causing organisms; we want to know the relationships between fecal indicator bacteria and the presence of human waste, the value of culture-independent methods for detecting wastes and pathogens, and the transport and fate of fecal bacteria in the environment.

Current interests and projects include:

  • Vadose zone microbial ecology
    o Biofilms in unsaturated environments
    o Microbial extracellular polymeric substances (EPS)
    o Vadose zone saccharides
    o Community composition, diversity, function
    o Water stress
    o Environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) of soils and soil microbes
    o Microsite phenomena
    o Cell-cell communication in dry systems
    o Reaction-diffusion modeling
  • Coastal and estuarine bacterial ecology
    o Pollutant interactions with bacterial communities in estuarine ecosystems
    o Markers of human sewage in aquatic bacterial communities
    o Bacterial communities as tracers for other pollutants
    o Relationships between urbanization and coastal bacteriological water quality
  • Bacterial interactions with nanoparticles
    o Bacterial uptake and decomposition of CdSe quantum dots, TiO2 and other nanoparticles
    o Toxicity of engineered nanoparticles to environmental bacteria
    o Planktonic and biofilm bacterial interactions with nanoparticles
  • Urban water quality and pollution biodegradation in soils, sediments
    o Roles of urban infrastructure on groundwater and surface water quality
    o Geospatial analysis of relationships between pollutant sources, concentration gradients, and receptors
    o Minimally invasive remediation strategies for multi-contaminants in soil and groundwater