Seminars 2012

High-throughput and low-throughput genetics of environmental microbes: what we are learning about sulfate reducing bacteria

Dr. Judy Wall

Biochemistry Division Professor
University of Missouri

3:30 PM
Friday, December 07, 2012                
Room 121 Butler-Carlton Hall

Genetic approaches to the examination of the physiology of environmental microbes are often difficult and slow. We have developed a markerless deletion system for the anaerobic, sulfate-reducing bacteria of the genus Desulfovibrio to study energy conversion pathways including hydrogen production.  Random transposon mutagenesis has also been applied and a library of >12,000 mutants is now available for analysis.  Finally, to extend genetic analyses, we have adapted the procedure for simultaneous assay of thousands of transposon mutations en masse by deep-sequencing of DNA for examining gene fitness across the genome.  A few insights into sulfate reduction derived from these studies will be presented. 

Through the years, I have guided experiments to identify a generalized transduction system, transposon mutagenesis, shuttle vectors, and a markerless deletion system for the strictly anaerobic bacteria of the genus Desulfovibrio. Through collaborations in the ENIGMA project at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory ( ), we have applied high through-put technologies to facilitate the generation of >1000 tagged gene constructs for identifying protein-protein interactions in Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough.  In addition, we now have >12,000 unique genes mutated in this strain, each of which carries a specific TagModule that will allow parallel genetic analysis of gene fitness (in collaboration with A. Deutschbauer).  We are also perfecting a technique for determining gene fitness through transposon mutagenesis and deep sequencing (TnSeq).  From the genome sequence of D. vulgaris and physiological studies, it is clear that this bacterium has the capacity for redox interaction with a number of toxic metals, e.g., U(VI) and Cr(VI), with the potential for altering the solubility of the metal. Therefore, determination of the electron flow patterns in this bacterium may provide an understanding of this metabolism and of energy conversion. It is now necessary to expand studies to include the natural life style of these bacteria in environmental communities and the influence of the microbial interactions on the metabolic capacities.

Impact of Humic Acid on the Toxicity of Nano-Zinc Oxide

Forrest Carithers

Senior - Environmental Engineering
Missouri University of Science and Technology

3:30 PM
Friday, November 30, 2012                
Room 121 Butler-Carlton Hall

With highly unique physical and chemical characteristics such as surface area, size, solubility and sorption affinity, engineered nano-materials (ENMs) have the potential to revolutionize many fields. From manufacturing and industrial processes to consumer products and medicinal technologies, great changes have already been made as the result of the applications of nanotechnology.  However, the same characteristics that give ENMs such valuable properties and diverse applicability also raise concerns about the toxic effects of ENMs to both humans and the environment. With more than 1,300 consumer products containing ENMs already on the market and expected tremendous economic growth in the near future, release of ENMs to the environment is inevitable. There is a great need for understanding of both the toxic potential and the transport mechanisms of ENMs when released into the environment.

In this study, the acute toxicity (LC50) of a common ENM, nano- Zinc oxide (n-ZnO) and its bulk counterpart was studied using C. dubia as a model organism following EPA standard procedures. A correlation between the solubility of n-ZnO (i.e. the presence of Zn(II) free ions) and the toxicity was established. The effect of DOM as humic acid, on the toxicity of n-ZnO was also studied. Results indicated that the LC50 for C. dubia was similar for both n-ZnO (2.5 mg/L) and bulk ZnO (2.2 mg/L). A strong correlation between the toxicity of n-ZnO and the presence of Zn(II) was indicated. When introduced to a culturing media containing humic acid, the toxicity of n-ZnO and its bulk counterpart did not change significantly, while the toxicity of Zn(II) to the C. dubia was decreased (i.e. the LC50 for Zn(II) increased). The free zinc ions could form complexes with the humic acid therefore reduce the toxicity of zinc ions. However, after the addition of humic acid and forming complexes with free zinc ions for the reactors containing nano-ZnO and bulk-ZnO, these particles continuously dissolved and reached the same free zinc ion concentration. Therefore, the total toxicity of nano-ZnO and bulk-ZnO did not change.  

Careers in Consulting and Research:  Experience with Corollo Engineers

Dr. Justin Sutherland

Principal Technologist
Carollo Engineers

3:30 PM
Friday, November 22, 2012                
Room 121 Butler-Carlton Hall

Justin is a three-time graduate of UMR/S&T and has gone on to a very successful career in research and consulting.  In his career he has developed new water treatment technologies and approaches, applying the education and experience he gained at Missouri S&T. He will share some of his experience in research and consulting since he graduated with his PhD from the CArE department and started with Carollo.  He will also talk about opportunities with Carollo for civil and environmental engineers.

Carollo Engineers  provides planning, design, and construction management services for municipal clients since our founding in 1933. Corollo is the largest firm in the United States that is solely dedicated to water related engineering –“it is all we do. Our targeted expertise helps our clients protect public health and the water environment with cost-effective, innovative, and reliable solutions. We continually strive to emulate our mission statement, “Dedicated to creative, responsive, quality solutions to those we serve.”

Microbially Mediated Redox Cycling of Fe in Acid Mine Drainage-Impacted Systems

Dr. John M. Senko

Department of Geology and Environmental Science
The University of Akron

3:30 PM
Friday, November 16, 2012                
Room 121 Butler-Carlton Hall

Coal mine-derived acid mine drainage (AMD) is produced when oxygenated water infiltrates abandoned or active mines.  Microbiological activities enhance the oxidation of the sulfide moiety of coal-associated strata, giving rise to acidic and Fe(II)-rich fluids.  We have identified several systems where AMD flows as a sheet (approximately 0.5 cm deep), which facilitates the aeration of the AMD and oxidative precipitation of Fe(II).  The resultant Fe(III) (hydr)oxides accumulate as a “iron mounds,” which may be as much as a meter thick and is composed almost exclusively of Fe(III) solids.  Microbial communities develop within these iron mounds that mediate the oxidation of Fe(II) in aerobic zones and reduction of Fe(III) and sulfate in anaerobic regions.  The dynamics of these Fe and S redox cycling processes will be discussed as well as strategies for the “far-afield” transport of electrons within the iron mounds.

John Senko received his B.S. in Biology from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, M.S. in Biology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA, and Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK.  After post doctoral work in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, PA, John accepted a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology and Environmental Science at The University of Akron in Akron, OH.  John’s research interests include microbe-mineral interactions and evaluations of how microbial activities modulate the prevailing chemical conditions of a variety of natural and human-impacted systems.

Hydraulic Fracturing, Shale Gas and the Emerging Energy Conversation

Joe Gillman

Division Director & State Geologist;
Division of Geology and Land Survey 

Missouri Department of Natural Resources 

3:30 PM
Friday, November 9, 2012                
Room 121 Butler-Carlton Hall

The use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has made it possible to release large quantities of trapped hydrocarbons from traditionally low-permeability geologic formations.  Although hydraulic fracturing methods have been used by the industry for decades, it is only recently that technology has made it possible to economically produce natural gas from shale plays.  The result: The US has far more available natural gas than anyone suspected and it may have a significant impact on the energy future.  This presentation will include discussion of the history and key technology breakthroughs in hydraulic fracturing; the current shale plays; the role of shale gas in future energy portfolios in the US; and questions concerning clean water and other environmental considerations. 

Joe Gillman, RG is the Director and State Geologist, Division of Geology and Land Survey, Department of Natural Resources.  As state geologist, Mr. Gillman represents Missouri interests on a state and federal level related to geologic issues and policy development and is a member and Secretary of the Association of American State Geologists.  Mr. Gillman is a member of the State Oil and Gas Council, the Land Reclamation Commission, the Missouri Board of Geologists Registration, the Well Installation Board, the Industrial Minerals Advisory Council and represents Missouri interests in the Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership, the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Central United States Earthquake Consortium.  Mr. Gillman recently completed a special assignment as acting director of Missouri’s division of energy during the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act program development and implementation.  Mr. Gillman holds a comprehensive B.S. in Geology from Missouri State University.

Chemical Treatment of Arsenic-Contaminated Soils:  A Superfund Case Study

David Williams

USEPA Region 7 
Federal On-Scene Coordinator 

3:30 PM
Friday, November 2, 2012                
Room 121 Butler-Carlton Hall

Over a period spanning more than 50 years, an herbicide blending company in North Kansas City released an estimated 400,000 pounds of arsenic onto soil on its property, resulting in one of the largest arsenic-contaminated sites in the United States.  In addition to the adverse health effects caused by direct contact with arsenic, the site overlaid a significant drinking water aquifer system in the area.  Monitoring well data from this aquifer showed that tremendous amounts of arsenic had migrated into the local aquifer, and was migrating slowly towards the Missouri River.  EPA, working with private parties, formulated a strategy that would remove arsenic mass at the site to the extent possible, navigating numerous legal and technical issues.  In addition, a several-step chemical treatment process was developed to stabilize the arsenic, a process which ultimately enabled the placement of the treated material to a local landfill.  Over 86,000 tons of contaminated soil was treated at a cost of approximately $5 million, and the aquifer system is recovering.

David Williams has been with EPA since 1990, working in the areas of emergency and disaster response, as well as hazardous material and oil cleanup response.   David has developed expertise in the areas of biological and chemical treatment of chemical contaminants, as well as responding to large-scale chemical/oil releases that occur during disasters.  David has applied stabilization techniques at “heavy metal” Superfund sites, and water treatment techniques at Superfund sites.  Disaster responses include the Iowa Floods 2008 disaster; Hurricanes Ike and Gustav hazmat/oil disaster response; the Hurricane Katrina Search and Rescue effort; the Greensburg, Kansas tornado disaster response; and the BP oil spill response.  Dave worked in the petroleum exploration and production industry from 1984 to 1990, spending most of his time in east and south Texas, central California, and offshore California.  David also teaches a course at his peers’ national conference, addressing issues of cost/benefit analysis and “diminishing returns” as applied to hazardous material and oil cleanup work.

 Dave received a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1984, and an M.S. in Environmental Health Engineering from the University of Kansas in 1990.

A Future Worth Choosing: Climate Change and Environmental Adaptation, Scenario Development and Policy Strategies

Lynn Wilson

Executive Director / CEO
Sea Trust Institute

3:30 PM
Friday, October 26, 2012                
Room 121 Butler-Carlton Hall

Dr. Lynn Wilson provides an overview of the cutting edge climate and policy science that is informing international policy negotiations at the United Nations and the implications of the interplay of environmental science and policy for communities everywhere. The ways in which non-governmental organizations influence negotiations as the providers of relevant data, capacity building and in implementing adaptation plans in developed and developing nations and communities highlight the vital role of NGOs in the global discourse and in our own communities. Lynn shows how this interlinked process across scales, disciplines and cultures which SeaTrust Institute calls “Local to Global and Back AgainSM,” integrates community action, education and planning to inform local, national and international policy. Finally, she introduces some actions the audience can take now and introduces a process for creating local adaptation strategies to climate change.

Dr. Lynn Wilson is founder and CEO of SeaTrust Institute, a scientific research and educational nonprofit organization with headquarters in Olympia, Washington.  She is a senior analyst for the consulting firm OSSIA, offering research, conflict management, strategic and policy guidance to government and industry for over 25 years.

Lynn has served as SeaTrust Institute’s Head of Delegation, NGO Focal Point for Conference of Parties, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since 2009. Recently she has chaired UNFCCC official events at Cancun, MX 2010, Bonn, DE 2011, Durban SA, 2011 and at the UNCSD Rio+20 sustainability meetings in June, 2012. She  has coordinated global  climate change and health research since 2009 as Co-Chair of the United Nations Coalition on Health and the Environment: Climate Change Initiative in collaboration with other global climate and health professionals including the World Health Organization; she collaborates with global partners in Africa, Asia and Europe on capacity building and  local training on climate adaptation and disease surveillance throughout the globe in partnership with the UNISDR (United Nations International Strategy on Disaster Risk Reduction).  She is a reviewer for the most influential report on climate strategy for the next decade: the International Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report, AR5.

NO SEMINAR 10/19/2012

Dielectric Permittivity Responses of Organically Modified Clay at Frequencies of 0.2 - 1.3 GHz.

Bate Bate

Assistant Professor: Civil, Architectural & Environmental Engineering 
Missouri University of Science and Technology  

3:30 PM
Friday, October 12, 2012                
Room 121 Butler-Carlton Hall

Nine organically modified clays were synthesized in the laboratory with controlled organic carbon structure and density of loading, in order to quantify the impact of organic carbon on the electrical permittivity of the organoclays. Resonance polarization responses were observed for 6 of the organoclays at resonant frequencies from 0.74 to 1.37 GHz; only the organoclay with the smallest organic cation did not exhibit resonant frequency. A structural model of water molecules near the surface of organoclay and in the diffuse layer was proposed, which consisted of a surface-bound water layer, an organic cation-interactive zone, and bulk water. The Cole-Cole equation was used to fit the resonance response.

Increasing the density of loading on the clay surface led to a reduction in the resonance period of the clay, while increasing the size of the organic cation led to a longer resonant period for the clay, which indicated that altering the structure and density of the organic carbon phase changed the degree of constraint of water molecules within the clay’s interlayer; however, the impact of organic carbon content on real permittivity was not significant. It was also demonstrated that although water content was an important factor to consider for low water content soil (<= 13%), it had no obvious effect on the resonant frequency of the organoclays. It was shown that the real permittivity and effective conductivity of the organoclay cations and soils agreed with Archie’s law.

Trace element uptake by rice: effect of soil-As, cultivar and irrigation management

Eric Farrow

Environmental Engineering Graduate Student 
Missouri University of Science and Technology               

3:30 PM
Friday, October 05, 2012                
Room 121 Butler-Carlton Hall

Accumulation of trace elements in rice, including arsenic (As), selenium (Se), molybdenum (Mo) and cadmium (Cd) has been reported in many regions of the world, including the United States.  This research investigated the accumulation of trace elements of concern in native and MSMA-amended soil for six rice cultivars commonly grown in the south central U.S.  The effect of irrigation management on total grain accumulation was also evaluated.  Results indicated MSMA amendments increased the accumulation of As and Se, but decreased Mo and Cd under all irrigation treatments.  In MSMA-amended soil, irrigation using intermittent flooding significantly decreased total grain-As, but significantly increased Se and Cd, with insignificant impact on Mo.  In non-MSMA soil, intermittent flooding significantly decreases total grain Mo with insignificant impact on As, Se and Cd.  Evaluating grain correlations between elements, a negative As-Se correlation was identified as total grain-As increased and Se decreased; whereas a positive As-Mo correlation was identified as total grain-As and Mo increased.  The As-Cd correlation was negligible.  Statistical analysis using SAS 9.2 evaluated the split-split plot experimental data and revealed interactions between experiment factors significant for As, Se and Mo, indicating the impact of changing levels of one factor is influenced by the level of the other factor(s).  Interaction terms for Cd were not significant.  This research concludes As, Se, Mo and Cd uptake to be a complex function rather than a function of a single element in soil or rice grain.

Measurement of the Hygroscopic Growth Properties of Evolving Aircraft Exhaust Particulate Matter

James Keehn

Physics Ph.D. Student 
Missouri University of Science and Technology               

3:30 PM
Friday, September 28, 2012                
Room 121 Butler-Carlton Hall

Due to increasing levels of commercial air traffic, emissions from jet engines are also increasing. Particulate matter (PM) emissions are of importance due to their adverse effects on climate, local air quality, and human health. The Missouri University of Science and Technology (MS&T) Center of Excellence for Aerospace Particulate Emissions Reduction Research (COE) has developed a Hygroscopicity – Tandem Differential Mobility Analyzer (H-TDMA) apparatus in order to study the hygroscopic properties of soot aerosols, which play an important role in determining the aforementioned adverse environmental effects of the emissions. The H-TDMA uses two Differential Mobility Analyzers, or DMAs, to generate a monodisperse particle stream which can then be humidified in a controlled manner. After humidification (and the growth of hygroscopic particles) the second DMA, along with a particle counting device, is used to scan through the size range of wet particles, yielding a size distribution for the humidified particles. Recent laboratory experiments have validated the performance of the H-TDMA using both pure salt aerosols as well as hybrid soot particles coated with sulfuric acid. At approximately 90% relative humidity, both experimental and theoretical data for salt aerosols show a size-dependent growth factor between ~1.5 and 2.0. In addition to the salt experiments, hybrid aerosols were also generated in the lab and tested with the H-TDMA. These hybrid aerosols consist of soot (carbon) cores which are coated with sulfuric acid, and represent a lab substitute for aged jet engine PM. Testing with the hybrid aerosols allowed a realistic comparison between manual and automatic operating modes for the H-TDMA, with favorable results.  Planned upgrades to the H-TDMA system as well as future research topics will also be discussed.

“What’s up and what’s going down with Stormwater in St. Louis”

Jay Hoskins, PE

(Civil BS UMR/Missouri S&T)  
Civil Engineer               
Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District

3:30 PM
Friday, September 21, 2012                
Room 121 Butler-Carlton Hall

Stormwater management is gaining attention in many metropolitan areas.  In older cities, the initial sewer systems were combined sanitary and stormwater, and while state of the art sanitation then, are now causing concerns as the rain events lead to combined sewer overflows (CSOs).  To eliminate the CSOs, many cities are turning to storing or treating nearly all precipitation, but there is considerable capitol and energy costs associated with these approaches.  In recent years interest has increased in the use of innovative methods to retain and treat stormwater. These methods, often called green infrastructure, rely on natural processes, such as microbial activity, filtration, infiltration, denitrification, nutrient reduction and evapotranspiration, to attain water quality and water quantity goals.

Jay Hoskins, PE, is a Principal Engineer in the Planning/Development Review Group with the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD). As team leader of the engineering staff charged with overseeing development projects in the southern and western portion of MSD, he serves in a variety of roles and projects that involve implementation of post-construction stormwater BMPs and green infrastructure. Mr. Hoskins is an author of MSD’s Site Design Guidance (a process to ensure adequate upfront stormwater planning occurs on new and redevelopment projects) and the Landscape Guide for Stormwater BMP Design, and he contributed to Missouri DNR’s Missouri Guide to Green Infrastructure. He is also an adjust professor in the Saint Louis University Civil Engineering Department. Mr. Hoskins was awarded the 2012 Young Engineer Award for Professional Achievement by the St. Louis Section of ASCE. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, and his Master’s of Science degree in Environmental Engineering and Science from Clemson University. 

Nanomaterials and Their Environmental and Health Impact

Dr. Yinfa Ma

Department of Chemistry and 
Environmental Research Center                
Missouri University of Science and Technology

3:30 PM
Friday, September 14, 2012                
Room 121 Butler-Carlton Hall

Nanotechnology and applications of nanomaterials have become one of the leading technologies. Due to the unique physical and chemical characteristics of nanomaterials, nanomaterials are increasingly important in many industrial products, with applications such as catalysts, pigments, resin, cosmetics and electronic devices. The use of nanomaterials has been extended to the biomedical and biotechnological fields in recent years for the purposes of drug/gene delivery, disease diagnosis, recognition, diagnosis and tracking of tumor cells, and imaging. Some nanomaterials, such as carbon black (CB), TiO2, iron oxides, and amorphous silica, have been manufactured by the chemicals industry for several decades and are produced in quantities of many tons per year. Although the long-term effects of nanoparticles on environment and human health remain unclear, many preliminary studies have demonstrated their toxic effects to the ecological systems and human health. The environmental fate and behavior of nanomaterials depend not only on the physical and chemical character of the nanomaterial, but also depend on the characteristics of the receiving environment.  In this seminar, some current studies on nanotoxicity and their possible environmental and human health impact will be presented.

Lab Safety Training

Xinsheng Zhang

3:30 PM
Friday, September 7, 2012                
Room 121 Butler-Carlton Hall

The Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is committed to providing a safe learning and working environment for our students and employees. As part of this commitment, lab safety training is required to establish a standard format for safety in the laboratories of the university.

In this seminar, we will discuss general lab safety rules, protective equipment, chemical hygiene plan, chemical storage, and chemical waste management. After training, you should be able to protect yourself in a lab. Your safety is our priority.