NOTE: This is an historical site; the program ended in 1999.
The University of Washington presents an exciting research and training initiative in Marine Bioremediation. The Marine Bioremediation Program (MBP), initially supported by a major grant from the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research, capitalizes on outstanding UW faculty and laboratory resources across many departments. Its goal is to bring fundamental, mechanistic and process-oriented approaches to an understanding of real and potential bioremedial activities of microorganisms in polluted marine sediments. The concept of in situ bioremediation, one of our primary concerns, involves an assessment of degradative rates in situ and the deliberate and strategic manipulation of living communities within a contaminated site in order to alter the pathways or enhance the typically slow rate of natural biodegradation. One method under study supplements nutrients such as nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphorus to the sediments to stimulate organisms capable of degrading the toxic substance of concern. Another method alters recalcitrant pollutants, often hydrophobic xenobiotics, physicochemically so that they are more available for metabolism. By using a mechanistic approach and developing and applying methods in biotechnology and genetics, we examine the molecular basis of specific microorganisms to tolerate and degrade xenobiotics. The principal goal of bioremediation is to enhance the natural biological-chemical transformations that render pollutants harmless as minerals and thus to provide a permanent solution to the environmental problem of contaminated marine sediments. Our location on Puget Sound with its rich and varied marine environments permits us to contrast the ecology and rates of compound transformations in pristine as well as polluted sediments. The marine organisms that contribute directly to pollutant degradation are principally bacteria, and to a lesser (or indirect) degree fungi, protozoa, and benthic invertebrates. The MBP is an unusual program in its focus on the relationship between consortia of marine organisms and remedial activity. The program provides unique opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students to study such issues as metabolite exchange within microbial consortia, effects of sediment movement or microenvironments provided by macrofauna on consortial activities, the role of genetic exchange and the potential for biotechnological solutions. The MBP strives to develop fundamental understanding that will lead to rational protocols for bioremediation and prove their effectiveness relative to other treatments such as sediment capping. The research and training approach of the MBP is strongly interdisciplinary. Collaborating faculty and students come from the departments of Civil and Chemical Engineering, Fisheries, Forest Resources, Genetics, Microbiology, and Oceanography. Seminars and courses of interest are arranged jointly. Opportunities for agency or industry partners to affiliate with and benefit from the program are available. Specialized laboratory and field facilities, including the UW's renowned Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL) in Puget Sound, and the facility in the College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences, the Marine Molecular Biotechnology Laboratory (MMBL), are available to all participants and visitors. Close cooperation among faculty and students serves to provide the graduate trainee with expertise in all areas of knowledge that are relevant to bioremediation.
The graduate students and visitors participating in the UW Marine Bioremediation Program are members of academic departments. These departments offer admission and financial support to the student as well as set entrance and graduation requirements. More detailed information about the graduate program, research activities, and opportunities for fellowships in each academic department is available on the internet. Admission to departments relies heavily on the quality of a student's undergraduate work and potential promise as a graduate student. For most departments, graduate applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test (Analytical, Quantitative, and Verbal). Foreign students whose native language is not English must also schedule the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The results of these examinations, the undergraduate transcript, letters of recommendation, and the applicant's statement of objectives and interests are the basis for the evaluation of each candidate. Applicants are encouraged to mention their interest in the UW Marine Bioremediation Program when they apply to a specific department. Admission to the departments can be accommodated at the beginning of any academic quarter, although summer or autumn entry is most common. No separate application for financial aid is required and each department sets the requirements and levels of financial aid. Teaching assistantships have professional status and are an opportunity to gain teaching experience at the university level. Such assistantships sharpen understanding of fundamental concepts in each student's discipline and allow the development of expertise in presenting technical material to a group. Students are required to serve as teaching assistants for at least one quarter as part of their graduate education.
About the Faculty
Scientific Publications within the Program
UW Marine Bioremediation Program
Last Modified: December 29, 1999 by firstname.lastname@example.org
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