0238627 Camesano Protection of drinking water from pathogenic contamination represents a growing concern since 50% of the population in the U.S. relies on groundwater for drinking water, and as few as 10-12 colony forming units (CFUs) of some strains of Escherichia coli and Vibrio cholerae can cause infection. The objectives of the proposed work are to characterize the surfaces of pathogenic and non-pathogenic microorganisms at the single-molecule level, and to relate the physical and chemical properties of these biopolymers to bacterial adhesion to "clean" and organic-coated surfaces. Our single-molecule approaches to studying iopolymer-mediated bacterial adhesion allow us to uncouple the complex physicochemical phenomena causing bacterial adhesion. The results of our work will be instrumental to modelers trying to predict the spread of pathogens in the environment (through intentional or accidental releases), to practitioners developing treatment technologies for drinking and wastewater, for the development of bio-barrier containment systems for subsurface microorganisms, and for all industries or problems that involve biofilms, from marine biofouling to clinical treatment of patients. The objectives of the educational program are to promote creativity and enhance learning through a continuum of experiences aimed at the pre-college through the graduate level. Students must gain an appreciation for the excitement of scientific research, and then learn to read and interpret scientific literature, design, perform, and analyze experiments, and communicate their findings. This is most successful when students are challenged to solve real-life environmental engineering problems by applying fundamental principles of engineering and science as well as novel technologies. Toward this end, I propose i) outreach activities through the form of summer camps for high-school aged female and minority students, which will create excitement about bacterial adhesion research through exposure to lab experiments and contact with more senior-level students and faculty, ii) mentored research experiences for first-year undergrads in a bacterial adhesion lab, iii) international research experiences for upper-level undergraduates at a chemical engineering school in France, iv) opportunities for graduate students to mentor undergraduate projects, v) improved undergraduate and graduate courses by introducing more problem-solving, laboratories, and real-world problems into to the curriculum.

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Worcester Polytechnic Institute
United States
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