Seminar flier (PDF)

Professor Alison Cupples

Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Michigan State University

Wednesday, May 31, 2017, at 4 p.m.
Johnson Hall Auditorium 102 [Directions]

The remediation of environmental contaminants remains an ongoing challenge to environmental engineers and scientists. Legacy pollutants, such as the chlorinated solvents, explosives, MTBE and BTEX are still common pollutants at many sites across the U.S.

More recently, emerging contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs), are being recognized as the next set of chemicals of concern for water or soil pollution. Many PPCPs are not degraded during wastewater treatment and enter the environment through biosolids application or water reuse.

This presentation will discuss the application of molecular microbiology to understand the susceptibility of both legacy and emerging contaminants to microbial biodegradation. Specifically, research will be presented concerning the use of stable isotope probing to identify the microorganisms able to degrade legacy contaminants (chlorinated solvents, RDX, toluene, MTBE). In addition, the functional pathways associated with the biodegradation of PPCPs in agricultural soils will be discussed. Finally, recent research on the development of a rapid and inexpensive method (loop mediated isothermal amplification, LAMP) to quantify the key microorganisms (Dehalococcoides) responsible for chlorinated solvent remediation will be presented.

Alison Cupples is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan State University. Professor Cupples received her B.S. from the University of East Anglia, her M.S. from the University of Illinois and her Ph.D. from Stanford University. She was a postdoctoral fellow with the USDA before joining MSU. Her research concerns the use of microbiology to understand and treat soil and water contamination. She is particularly interested in the application of molecular microbiology to identify of the microorganisms and functional genes associated with contaminant biodegradation of both legacy and emerging contaminants.