My current research focus involves coalmine passive remediation systems and the microbial communities that live there. I currently study four passive systems (see Field Sites for more information) built to treat circum-neutral mine drainage (two) and acidic mine drainage (two).
I am part of Dr. Nancy Trun's lab at Duquesne University, where the lab focuses on the microbial communities present in passive remediation and their impact (positive and negative) on the system. The lab uses both classical microbiology and Next-generation sequencing to test hypotheses.
I have completed a seasonal study at Wingfield Pines that determined that there is a seasonal impact on both the water quality and microbial communities living within the system (Read More Here). This study has also allowed us to identify 3 unique areas in the system (beginning, inflection point, and end), allowing us to have a more effective experimental design. I developed a lab-based system to study the microbial communities influence on passive remediation systems under controlled environments. I am currently performing another seasonal study that will look at the other three systems (Lowber, Middle Branch, and Boyce) and how the geochemistry, as well as the microbial communities change overtime. The overarching goal of my research is to identify both bacterial genera and metabolic genes that can serve as bioindicators in order to predict the current and future state of a system.