Environmental Engineering

Global warming, a dead zone and mysterious bacteria

Researchers Liz Robertson from the University of Southern Denmark and Josh Manger from the University of California, San Diego, ready a sample collector off Mexico's Pacific coast. They’re part of a research team that discovered bacteria making oxygen minimum zones in the ocean even deader by sucking up all life-giving nitrogen molecules. (Photo: Heather Olins)

In ocean expanses where oxygen has vanished, newly discovered bacteria are diminishing additional life molecules. They help make virtual dead zones even deader. Now, a team led by the Georgia Institute of Technology has discovered members of a highly prolific bacteria group known as SAR11 living in the world’s largest oxygen minimum zone. The team has produced unambiguous evidence that the bacteria play a major role in denitrification.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Odman’s new project will help us understand how prescribed burns impact health, air quality across the Southeast

Prescribed burn near Griffin, Georgia

When land managers in Florida or South Carolina or Georgia approve outdoor burns in their states, the resulting smoke doesn’t float to the state line and stop. Yet there’s no unified way to track all of this burning across the Southeast and account for the resulting impacts on air quality and residents’ health. Researcher Talat Odman has just secured funding to help address the problem

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Geary, Mast win NSF graduate fellowships

Georgene Geary and Laura Mast, winners of NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Two School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Ph.D. students have secured National Science Foundation fellowships, some of the most competitive and prestigious funding for the nation’s graduate students. Georgene Geary and Laura Mast join a long list of the brightest and most promising of the School’s students to win the funding. This year, NSF chose to support fewer than one in eight applicants.

Thursday, April 14, 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

Fulbright Program sends Bivins to India for ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ research opportunity

Aaron Bivins

What’s that old saying about being in the right place at the right time? For Ph.D. student Aaron Bivins, news last week that he has won a Fulbright Scholarship means he’ll get to experience the reality of that maxim.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

#GTBolivia: Spring Break research trip aims to make water safer in Bolivia

Students collecting water samples along Bolivia's Choqueyapu River.

While many Georgia Tech students enjoyed some time away from classes during Spring Break, students in Joe Brown's "Environmental Technology in the Developing World" class were working to improve the lives of Bolivians. Join us on their journey, through the students' own words and pictures.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Bacteria in the pipes: Study identifies the hard-to-detect microbes in hospital shower hoses

Growth of Mycobacterium isolated on a plate of culture medium. (Photo: Stacey Pfaller, EPA)

The human microbiome, a diverse collection of microorganisms living inside us and on our skin, has attracted considerable attention for its role in a broad range of human health issues. Now, researchers are discovering that the built environment also has a microbiome, which includes a community of potentially-pathogenic bacteria living inside water supply pipes. A paper published March 11 in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology describes microbial communities found in shower hoses at a major U.S. hospital. The study documented bacteria – and related genes – using cutting-edge metagenomic techniques that allow the characterization of organisms that cannot be detected using traditional culture-based microbiology assays.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Less sulfate in the air, but it’s still as acidic as ever

Hongyu Guo, Rodney Weber and Ted Russell on their research platform atop the Ford Environmental Science & Technology Building.

Acidic sulfur emissions from power plants have been rapidly declining over the past decade, and the neutralizing base – ammonia – is emitted from a different source, and has not declined. This has led many atmospheric scientists to assume that the ambient sulfate particles we all breathe are becoming less acidic and therefore less toxic. But a new study shows this intuitive expectation hasn’t happened, at least not in the Southeast United States, where the remaining sulfate particles appear to be as acidic as ever.

Monday, February 22, 2016

How much garbage is burned each day in India? Times of India highlights Russell study

Last year, School of Civil and Environmental Engineers pinned the yellowing and browning of the Taj Mahal on air pollution — specifically airborne carbon particles and dust. Now they’ve found one of the primary sources of those pollutants: large-scale open burning of garbage.

Monday, November 2, 2015

New approach could reduce human health impacts of electric power generation

By combining information about power plant operation with real-time air quality predictions, researchers have created a new capability to minimize the human health effects of air pollution resulting from electric power generating facilities. The Air Pollutant Optimization Model, described in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides a new approach for reducing the health effects of ozone and fine particulate pollution.

Monday, August 17, 2015

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