The research focus regarding the Environmental Engineering initiative of VCASE relates to understanding and treating sources of contamination (i.e. pathogens, excess nutrients and metals) that result from the built environment. The overall goal of this initiative is to provide the knowledge and mechanisms required for contaminant abatement as it pertains to sustainable development.
Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology (EMB) Laboratory
Research in the applied microbiology area as it relates to environmental engineering is conducted in the Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology Laboratory. Specific interests are public health microbiology and biological processes. Recently, the laboratory established a strong infrastructure to incorporate several molecular biology tools; such as, CR, FAME, and gel electrophoresis into its research projects, particularly in the microbial source tracking and the microbial community structure and function analysis areas.
Environmental Engineering Chemistry Laboratory (EECL)
The EEC lab was established in the fall of 2014 and its current members include Dr. Wenqing Xu (PI) and Jarrod Bridge (MS student). The Xu Research Group specializes in environmental engineering chemistry, applying modern chemical research methods to study chemical mechanisms that underpin important environmental processes in both natural and engineered systems. The ultimate goal is to use chemical principles to guide the development of sustainable technologies in order to meet some of our greatest environmental challenges, including the need for safe drinking water, food security and renewable energy.
Ongoing research in EEC laboratory includes,
- Environmental fate and treatment of emerging contaminants
- Nutrient recovery using biochars
- Black carbon-mediated redox processes in soil and aquatic
Analytical Laboratory is typically used for research related to all areas of environmental engineering where complex and highly sensitive analytical techniques and instrument are required. The equipment inventory in the Analytical Laboratory includes: one Agilent gas chromatograph with mass spectrophotometer detector (GC/MS) with ion and electron ionization capabilities; 2 Agilent 6890 gas chromatographs with flame ionization, thermal conductivity, and electron capture detectors; one Dionex DX-600 IC/HPLC with electrochemical, photodiode array, and quadruple mass spectrophotometer detectors; Pectronic Genesys 5 variable wavelength scanning UV/Vis spectrophotometer.
Core Genomics Laboratory
National Science Foundation sponsored Core Genomics Laboratory for Teaching and Research in Biotechnology houses state-of-the-art genomics instrumentation including an Applied Biosystems 7300 TF real-time PCR system for q-PCR work; a Smidzu BioSpec-mini UV-Vis spectrophotometer and a NanodropTM optimized for rapid quantification of RNA, DNA, and proteins; two Lieca epifluorescent microscope equipped with high speed and cooled camera and image analysis software; an Eppendorf 5417R refrigerated high-speed mini centrifuge; a Milli-Q Biocell water purification system that supplies RNAase free water; a Beckman-Coulter Vi-CELL™ cell viability analyzer; a Shimadzu HPLC with UV-Vis detector; a sonicator for cell lysis; an ultra freezer (-85 oC); a basic freezer (-20 oC); and a crushed ice maker.
The Water Resources Teaching and Research Laboratory (WRTRL)
WRTRL houses analytical equipment for analysis of metals and nutrients. Equipment includes an Easy Chem Plus Auto Analyzer, a PE AAnalyst 800 Furnace and Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrometer, a HACH DR/4000 Spectrophotometer as well as general equipment for water quality analysis such as pH meters, dissolved oxygen meters, chemical hoods, balances, and ovens.
External/ Internal Relationships
Research projects in the environmental engineering focus area have been sponsored by industry (Organica Inc., American Refining and Biochemical, Brown and Caldwell), local (Philadelphia Water Department), state (PA Department of Environmental Protection, Ben Franklin Technology Partners), and federal government agencies (EPA, NSF, US Geological Survey). In addition, the group have collaborated with local non-profit organizations, such as Chester, Ridley, Crum (CRC) Watershed Association to address local environmental challenges.
Taskin, B., Gozen, A.G., Duran, M. (2011). “Selective quantification of viable Escherichia coli in biosolids by quantitative PCR with propidium monoazide modification.” Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 77(13):4329-4335.
Shuai, D., Chaplin, B.P., Shapley, J.R., Menendez, N.P., McCalman, D.C., Schneider, W.F., Werth, C.J. (2010). “Enhancement of oxyanion and diatrizoate reduction kinetics using selected azo dyes on Pd-based catalysts.” Environmental Science and Technology, 44(5), 1773-1779.
Lefkowitz, J.R., Duran, M. (2009). “Changes in antibiotic resistance patterns of Escherichia coli during domestic wastewater treatment.” Water Environment Research, 81(9):878-885.
Moon, H. S., Komlos, J., and Jaffé, P. R. (2009). Biogenic U(IV) oxidation by dissolved oxygen and nitrate in sediment after prolonged U(VI)/Fe(III)/SO42− reduction. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 105(1–2), 18-27.
Komlos, J., Moon, H.S., and Jaffé, P. R.. (2008). Effect of sulfate on the simultaneous bioreduction of Iron and Uranium." Journal of Environmental Quality, 37(6), 2058-2062;