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Holden Lab Website

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

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