Dr. Espinosa-Ortiz research on Fungal-based systems - water treatment & environmental remediation
- Friday, March 29, 2019 at 3:00pm
- Roberts Hall, 218 - view map
Abstract: The use of fungi to remove organic and inorganic pollutants from wastewater is a viable alternative (or addition) to traditional wastewater treatment technologies using bacteria. Fungal systems are advantageous due to their ability to withstand harsh conditions (e.g., fluctuating pollutant loads, low pH values, limited nutrient concentrations), and the sometimes tremendous fungal production of specific and non-specific oxidative and reductive enzymes. This seminar will focus on the ability of fungi to transform water soluble toxic forms of metalloids (such as selenium and tellurium) into valuable products in the form of nanoparticles, highlighting the potential use of fungal-based systems for metalloid mineral biorecovery in semi-acidic effluents as well as their application for acid mine drainage treatment. This seminar will also address the challenge of developing the next generation of fungal-based systems for wastewater treatment, which are envisioned to exploit the natural association and synergistic interactions that exist between fungi and other microbes in natural environments. Of particular interest are fungal-bacterial systems, which have demonstrated enhanced biodegradation performance compared to single domain systems. Understanding fungal-bacterial interactions for strains and species relevant for water and waste treatment would allow to engineer and optimize fungal-based systems for water treatment and environmental remediation.
Bio: Dr. Erika Espinosa-Ortiz is currently an Assistant Research Professor at Montana State University (MSU) in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. As a professional in the environmental engineering and technology areas, her work has been devoted to the development of alternative biological treatments for polluted environmental matrices including water systems. In 2006, Dr. Espinosa-Ortiz earned a Bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, in Environmental Engineering from the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM) in Mexico. Upon graduation, she worked as environmental consultant, analyst, and laboratory assistant in the Water Quality and Residues Laboratory at UAM. Awarded with a Fulbright scholarship, she obtained a MSc. in Ecological Sciences and Engineering from Purdue University in 2010. She received her PhD in 2015 at UNESCO-IHE Delft Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands as part of an Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate Program on Environmental Technologies. While pursuing her degree, she performed research at UNESCO-IHE, Paris-Est University and at the Center for Biofilm Engineering at MSU. Her dissertation research focused on the use of fungi as metalloid-reducing agents and their potential application in acid mine drainage treatment. In 2016, Dr. Espinosa-Ortiz joined Prof. Gerlach’s group at MSU as a postdoctoral researcher, focusing on biomineralization processes and biofilm engineering investigating the formation of bacterial, fungal, and algal biofilms in a variety of model systems, simulating medical, environmental, and industrial situations. Her research interests include fungal and fungal-bacterial biofilm applications in wastewater treatment and soil remediation.
- Civil Engineering