Faculty Members: Dr. John Novak, Dr. Amy Pruden, Dr. Mark Widdowson
Bioremediation is a natural process employed for attenuating a variety of organic and inorganic contaminants and thus enhancing long term stability of water resources. Faculty at Virginia Tech are actively engaged in research on ways to enhance bioremediation, improve understanding if its impacts, and predict the ultimate effect on contaminant fate and transport. Current research is underway on a variety of pollutants, including petroleum hydrocarbons, trinitrotoluene (TNT), heavy metals and radionuclides. Molecular biological analysis provides insight into microbial community composition, metabolism, and ecological processes driving bioremediation. At the same time, modeling is used as a tool to better understand and assess the performance of bioremediation. Dr. Widdowson and Dr. Pruden’s research on the recent Gulf coast oil spill provides and excellent example of the power of molecular biological techniques and modeling to better predict natural attenuation rates and prioritize clean-up efforts.