Student working at wastewater treatment plant

Environmental Biotechnology

Environmental biotechnology is one of the major research thrusts in the program. These projects involve the study, design, and use of microbial processes of importance in environmental systems.

William Burgos’ group is studying the ability of metal-reducing bacteria to stabilize uranium at sites with subsurface contamination.

Bruce Logan’s group is exploring the bacterial remediation of groundwater contaminated with perchlorate, using a combination of bench and pilot-scale reactors and protein expression analyses. Another focus of Logan’s group involves studying the factors that affect bacterial adhesion to surfaces, using column studies and surface chemistry techniques such as atomic force microscopy; the development of methods to evaluate the biodegradability of wastewaters, such as the headspace BOD test; wastewater treatment using trickling filters; and chemical degradation using fungal biofilm reactors.

Jay Regan’s students are developing molecular biology tools to rapidly enumerate nitrifying bacteria in drinking water distribution systems, providing a diagnostic tool to aid utilities. Another area of research in Regan’s group, integrated with Logan’s hydrogen technology development, involves the metabolic engineering of bacteria to increase fermentative hydrogen yields from sugars and complex substrates. 



The Penn State Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, established in 1881, is internationally recognized for excellence in the preparation of undergraduate and graduate engineers through the integration of education, research, and leadership.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

212 Sackett Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-1408

Phone: 814-863-3084