delware environmental institute

Environmental Frontier Seminar Series


In January 2014, DENIN awarded its first-ever Environmental Frontier Grants to four teams of UD faculty who proposed interdisciplinary environmental research projects designed to lay the groundwork for future proposals to outside granting agencies. In this seminar series, we've asked the principal investigators on each grant to share their progress with the DENIN community as well as others interested in their research topics. Seminars are free and open to the public. Each will take place from 3:00-4:00 p.m. in 467 ISE Lab.

Photo of Tom HansonSeptember 15
Tom Hanson, School of Marine Science and Policy
"Sulfide Biogeochemistry in the Anoxic Zone of the Chesapeake Bay"

Just south of the Bay Bridge connecting Annapolis and Kent Island, Maryland, there is a zone that routinely becomes oxygen depleted (anoxic) in  late summer. This zone often contains sulfide produced by organic matter decay. These anoxic waters host sulfide-oxidizing phototrophic bacteria that likely affect the extent and duration of anoxia. The latest data on the identities of these organisms, new techniques for identifying them, and their relevance to the Chesapeake Bay and other systems will be discussed.

Photo of Julie MarescaOctober 6
Julie Maresca, Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering
"Allies and Enemies in the Rhizosphere"

Interactions between bacteria and fungi in soil affect growth and survival of the partner organisms, the structure of the soil and the ability of plants to obtain nutrients. The interaction between any pair of organisms starts with each one identifying the other, first as self or non-self, then as "friend" or "enemy." This work uses the model fungus Magnaporthe oryzae and bacteria isolated from soil to examine the fungal mechanisms for identifying and responding to antagonistic bacteria.

Photo of Luc ClaessensNovember 10
Luc Claessens, Dept. of Geography
"Innovative Approaches for Reducing Watershed Nitrogen Export"

Agriculture and urban land use have been linked to elevated nitrogen loading which can have a severely harmful effect on aquatic ecosystems. Best management practices are promoted to improve water quality, but evidence suggests that such improvements could take many years to decades. We will report on preliminary work to examine other approaches that are innovative, fast-response, and cost-effective. This presentation focuses on the Christina River basin, where we use a combination of empirical methods (water quality monitoring and source tracking), geospatial modeling, and economic analysis.

Photo of Pei ChiuDecember 8
Pei Chiu, Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering
"Microbial Reduction of Nitrate Promoted by Biochar and Zero-Valent Iron"

Nitrate is among the most prevalent pollutants in stormwater and the leading cause of impaired waterways. There is growing pressure for municipalities and state DOTs to increase the efficiency of their stormwater treatment facilities. We proposed to use zero-valent iron and biochar, two granular media derived from wastes, to synergistically enhance nitrate removal from stormwater through microbial denitrification.  The mechanisms and supporting data for the proposal will be presented.