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Microbial Ecology and Engineering for Energy and Water Security

Event Type: 
Seminar
Event Date: 
16 October 2018 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Venue: 
ASE 3D Viz Laboratory Room (N2-B1c-16c)
Speaker: 
Dr. Janelle Thompson
About the speaker: 

Dr. Janelle Thompson is an environmental microbiologist whose research and teaching activities are driven by a desire to achieve a sustainable future through careful stewardship of energy and water resources. She obtained her BS and MS from Stanford University in Biology and Environmental Engineering, respectively, and her PhD in Biological Oceanography from MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She taught undergraduate and graduate-level Environmental Engineering courses for seven years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which included development of a laboratory-based microbiology course for engineering students. She is currently a Principal Investigator and Associate Director at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology Center for Environmental Sensing and Modeling. Her specific research projects are focused on protecting surface water quality and maintaining energy security through improved tracking and control of microbial pollutants, a better understanding of geologic carbon dioxide sequestration's microbiological footprint, and developing "green" biotechnologies for production of biofuels and bioproducts. Dr. Thompson's research is carried out through multidisciplinary collaborations, including undergraduate and graduate students, and employs the tools of modern molecular ecology, environmental genomics, and systems biology. Dr. Thompson currently resides in Singapore with her husband and daughter, and in her spare time enjoys gardening, traveling and sharing culinary adventures with her family.

If you would like to arrange a separate time to meet Dr. Janelle Thompson, please contact Asst. Prof. Patrick Martin to arrange a meeting.

 

About the event: 

In this talk I will discuss my research to advance technology for careful stewardship of energy and water resources. My team and I work to protect surface waters through improved tracking and control of microbial pollutants, and to promote energy security through a better understanding of geologic carbon sequestration's microbiological footprint, and development of "green" biotechnologies for making biofuels and bioproducts. Our research is carried out through multidisciplinary collaborations and employs the tools of modern molecular ecology, environmental genomics, and systems biology.  Specifically, in the water domain, we have tested and identified best-performing assays for tracking human fecal contamination in the tropics, developed methods to assess pathogen activity in marine microbiomes, and are leveraging next-generation sequencing (NGS) of environmental DNA in order to link waterborne microorganisms with the water quality properties that they mediate. In the energy domain, we work with microorganisms isolated from deep geologic CO2 sequestration (GCS) sites as models for GCS-microbiology and biotechnological development. To the latter end, we have developed a genetic system for synthetic biology in one of our supercritical (sc) CO2-tolerant strains and are currently working towards developing a two-phase system for engineered bioproduction of advanced biofuels with in situ scCO2 extraction for product purification. These projects open exciting new possibilities for enhanced water quality monitoring and control, as well as the production of advanced fuels and chemicals to support water and energy security in a sustainable future.