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This specialization centers on understanding the impact of microorganisms on water quality in both engineered systems (drinking water networks, wastewater treatment) and in natural surface and subsurface water systems.  Research topics include microbial nutrient cycling, both in the saturated (groundwater and aquifers) and unsaturated  zones associated with the deep percolation and migration of dissolved pollutants originating from fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides with emphasis on nitrogen, the impact of floods on microbial activities in streams, and the abundance and diversity of microorganisms in ephemeral desert streams.  Additional topics include the biodegradation of inorganic and organic pollutants in different water bodies, as well as the unique research subject of biological graywater treatment and its impact on the environment. Research on the biogeochemistry of streams and the impact of microorganisms on water quality is carried out at both the field and large-lab scales (flume). An additional research subject within this specialization is the effect of treated effluent re-use on the survival of microbial pathogens in wastewater effluent reservoirs, as well as in irrigation water. The isotopic bio-geochemistry of pollutant biodegradation by microorganisms in water bodies is now emerging as a cutting-edge new research subject in this specialization.


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Academic Program

Course Enrollment Instruction

Preliminary Research Proposal

Research Proposal

Progress Report


Submission Deadlines

✔  Staff Members