Mentor: Dr. Eric S. McLamore
College of Engienering
"I applied for the University Scholars Program after observing the success and satisfaction of another student who completed a University Scholars project in our lab. I hope to learn more about the publishing process and to finish this year's project and publication as a platform for future PhD studies."
- Household graywater bioremediation using HfMBR bioreactors
- Applied use of sustainable systems
- Bioremediation techniques
- Application-driven research
- SSF Housing Scholarship, 2010-present
- College of Engineering Scholarships, 2011-present
- Dollars for Scholars Jaffe Scholarship, 2010-present
- Treasure Coast Gator Club Scholarship, 2012
- Dean's List, 2010-present
- Institute of Biological Engineers
- Florida Swing Dance Club
- Special Olympics Coaching (Tennis, Swimming, Bowling, Volleyball)
- Elementary School Reading and Math Tutor
Hobbies and Interests
- Baking/Cooking and creating new recipes to test on room mates
Engineering a Sensor to Detect Dispersant Levels and Encourage Microbial Bioremediation
After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the need for innovative restoration processes has become urgent in order to avoid ecological and economic distress. One of the most well-known techniques involves the distribution of dispersants that break down oil into water-soluble micelles, but may also be harmful to the Gulf ecosystem.While microbes such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa can effectively metabolize hydrocarbons that have negatively affected Gulf wildlife, the environmental threats associated with dispersants are less readily apparent than those of the oil. Experiments have shown that dispersants leave dangerous levels of hydrocarbons in fish (often killing the fish eggs) and can cause reproductive anomalies in clams.
One technology that is currently under development for improved cleanup of oil spills involves nutrient-infused aerogels seeded with enriched oil-degrading microbes. The use of these natural microbes is an innovative approach to reducing dispersant levels without adding an additional inorganic ingredient to the cocktail of chemicals poured into the Gulf to counter oil spills. While evidence shows that oil uptake through oleophilic nano-channels and subsequent degradation is a promising technology for rapid spill mitigation, the effects of dispersants on this readily deployable solution is unclear. The overall objective of this research is to build and test a sensor which will detect dispersants used during the cleanup of oil spills. This sensor will be combined with existing physiological sensors to measure Oxygen and Iron levels, in addition to H+, and Ca2+ flux in lab studies designed to determine the feasibility of using aerogel-infused microbial remediation for hydrocarbon degradation. The significance of this sensor is two-fold: it creates concrete justification for bioremediation techniques that may be costly or time-consuming, and specifically supports the premise that the use microbes for dispersant-removal (a natural, non-toxic removal method) would enhance Gulf remediation efforts.