Microbes

Tsementzi wins Sigma Xi Best PhD Dissertation award for her widely published work in environmental microbiology

Despina Tsementzi has won the Sigma Xi Best Ph.D. Dissertation award for 2017. (Courtesy: Despina Tsementzi)

Georgia Tech’s scientific and engineering honor society has recognized Despina Tsementzi’s doctoral dissertation as one of the best of the year. Tsementzi, who finished her Ph.D. in the fall, has won the Sigma Xi Best Ph.D. Dissertation award for 2017. She’s one of only 10 students across campus to earn the distinction.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Study sheds light on key role for ‘rare’ aquatic microbes in dealing with pollution, balancing ecosystems

School of Civil and Environmental Engineering researchers have found that bacteria present in only small numbers in freshwater systems contain key genes that help the broader microbial community respond to environmental changes such as pollution or oil spills. The team used water from Lake Lanier northeast of Atlanta to test how microbial communities respond to common organic compounds. (Photo Courtesy: PBT1981 via Wikimedia Commons)

Even bacteria found in small numbers in freshwater communities play an essential role in maintaining the ecosystem and responding to environmental changes, according to new work from researchers in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. This “rare biosphere,” as they called it, carries important genes for breaking down organic pollutants, which can help the entire microbial community withstand environmental changes. Their study appeared March 3 in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Danger in the air? Brown wins NSF CAREER grant to find out

Assistant Professor Joe Brown has won an Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation. These so-called CAREER grants recognize promising young faculty with funds to help them establish the research director of their careers. (Photo: Jess Hunt-Ralston)

When Joe Brown went to India last summer, he was hoping to collect samples that could help answer some questions he’d been thinking about for a while. His years studying sanitation and global health had given him the idea that the open sewers and overflowing latrines common in the dense cities of the developing world could be linked with disease through an unusual mechanism: airborne transmission of pathogens.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Genomics technique could revolutionize how we detect bacteria in food poisoning outbreaks

Microbiologists use next-generation sequencing technology to identify a bacterial DNA fingerprint. (Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

A new testing methodology based on metagenomics could accelerate the diagnosis of foodborne bacterial outbreaks, allowing public health officials to identify the microbial culprits in less than a day. The methodology could also identify co-infections with secondary microbes, determine the specific variant of the pathogen, and help alert health officials to the presence of new or unusual pathogens.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dynamic model helps scientists understand healthy lakes to heal sick ones

Lake Mendota near Madison, Wisconsin. Georgia Tech researchers used long-term data on the lake’s microbial communities to develop what may be the largest-ever dynamic model of how those communities interact. The School of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Kostas Konstantinidis says that could help restore sick lakes and may one day help scientists better understand the human body’s microbiome. (Photo: Good Free Photos)

Development of a dynamic model for microbial populations in healthy lakes could help scientists understand what’s wrong with sick lakes, prescribe cures and predict what may happen as environmental conditions change. Those are among the benefits expected from an ambitious project to model the interactions of some 18,000 species in a well-studied Wisconsin lake.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dykstra joins other ‘rising stars’ at selective MIT workshop

Fourth-year graduate student Christine Dykstra joined 19 other women from around the country at a small gathering last week for early career engineers planning to enter academia. The Rising Stars Workshop at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is designed to foster scientific conversation between the next generation of civil and environmental engineering faculty members and help them build their careers.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Studying how one beach’s microbes broke down the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill could help speed up the process next time

When oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill first began washing ashore on Pensacola Municipal Beach in June 2010, populations of sensitive microorganisms, including those that capture sunlight or fix nitrogen from the air, began to decline. At the same time, organisms able to digest light components of the oil began to multiply, starting the process of converting the pollutant to carbon dioxide and biomass.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Computational tools will help identify microbes in complex environmental samples

<p>Microbes of interest to clinicians and environmental scientists rarely exist in isolation. Organisms essential to breaking down pollutants or causing illness live in complex communities, and separating one microbe from hundreds of companion species can be challenging for researchers seeking to understand environmental issues or disease processes. A new National Science Foundation-supported project will provide computational tools designed to help identify and characterize the gene diversity of the residents of these microbial communities.</p>

Tuesday, December 2, 2014
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