Advisor: Dr. Lauren Sassoubre (Assistant Professor, Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering)
Primary Activities: Field work sampling local waters and laboratory work using culture and DNA-based techniques
Project Summary: Coastal microbial (specifically fecal) pollution presents a health risk to not only aquatic ecosystems but also to humans who may ingest the contaminated water via drinking or recreational contact. Microbes, specifically pathogens, are transported to the coastal environment through contaminated surface and groundwater. To protect human health, fecal pollution sources and the persistence of fecal-associated microbes need to be determined. The REU will participate in ongoing research to assess fecal pollution in surface and groundwater flowing into Lake Erie. The research will include water collection in the field as well as laboratory experiments to determine the persistence of microorganisms and DNA in surface waters and groundwater. The REU will learn culture-based and DNA-based techniques for assessing water quality and identifying sources of microbial pollution in coastal waters. The research is part of an ongoing interdisciplinary project supported by New York State Parks and the EPA.
Skills/Recommended Background: Basic knowledge in environmental microbiology and DNA-based laboratory techniques, ability to participate in both field work and lab work, interest monitoring water quality and fish populations using DNA
Anticipated Conference Participation: Great Lakes Research Symposium, Geological Society of America’s Annual Meeting