A significant challenge facing the world in our immediate future is the need for clean, renewable energy sources. My work focuses on that challenge through the development and optimization of biological processes that convert waste streams into affordable and environmentally-responsible renewable fuels.
My past research efforts have given me a wide experience in microbiological systems and the necessary techniques for studying and controlling those systems. During my dissertation research I examined the biological remediation of acid mine drainage and focused on characterizing the members and functions of the microbial community involved in the treatment process. The research increased the understanding of the microorganisms that play a key role in this process, allowing for improved design and operation of these biological remediation systems. A novel biomolecular technique known as Active Community Profiling, which identifies the metabolically active members of a community was also developed. Other past research evaluated the cell signaling pathway and the cellular appendages responsible for E. coli swarming motility, while another project identified seven previously uncharacterized stress-related proteins in E. coli based on their sensitivity to cis-dichlorethylene.
My current research has both applied and fundamental aspects, and includes the cultivation and processing of algal species for the production of biodiesel, as well as genetic-level studies to elucidate the molecular pathways associated with lipid production in algae. This current work fits well with my broader research interests of converting waste product streams to renewable fuels and other value-added products through biologically-driven processes. This poster will summarize my past and current research, and will explore future research areas that I plan to pursue.