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February 2009
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Research Feature: Developing a Biosensor to Increase Wastewater Treatment Efficiency

Tyler Radniecki and his chemostat.A paper in the February issue of Biotechnology and Bioengineering describes the latest research efforts of an interdisciplinary OSU team working to develop microbial biosensors that could one day increase the efficiency of wastewater treatment plants. The research focuses on bacteria used to remove nitrogen from wastewater and is working to develop an early warning signal that will indicate when the bacteria’s activity is interrupted by pollutants. The group's biosensor technology could also lead to better detection and monitoring of pollutants in soil and groundwater. In the Biotechnology and Bioengineering article, OSU environmental engineers Tyler Radniecki, Lewis Semprini and Mark Dolan describe their studies of the bacteria’s response to the pollutant zinc. Link to a short Web interview where Tyler Radniecki, a post-doctoral researcher, describes the goals of the project and the research presented in the team’s recent paper.


Summer 2009 Undergraduate Internships Available

Do you know any undergraduates who would enjoy working on a summer project related to the subsurface biosphere? Please encourage them to apply for an SBI internship. SBI will support up to 20 interns this summer with the goals of stimulating interest in the subsurface biosphere and encouraging undergraduates to pursue graduate school. The program focuses on, but is not limited to, under-represented minority and women students. The SBI will support monthly hourly costs for each intern of up to $1333/month and $4000 total. This support can be augmented with research funds from the intern's faculty mentor. Applications will be reviewed on receipt. Approval is contingent on the availability of a faculty mentor and a suitable research project. Applicants are encouraged to seek out their own faculty mentor (see the SBI faculty directory) and to apply early because of the limited number of internships available. For more information please see:


Upcoming Events

Tuesday, February 17, 3-4 p.m. Strand 208. Managing Soil Nitrogen to Restore Weed Infested Systems: An Effective Strategy or Incomplete Paradigm. Presenter - Jeremy James, Res. Plant Physiologist, USDA-ARS Eastern Oregon Ag. Expt. Stn., Burns Held on campus at Strand Agricultural Hall 208. FMI: Tracy Mitzel, 737 5712.

Wednesday, February 18, 4-5 p.m., Kidder 278. Carbon sequestration programs and market development (Crop and Soil Science seminar). Presented by Susan Capalbo, OSU Agricultural and Resource Economics FMI: Emmalie Goodwin,737 5093.

Thursday, February 19, 10 a.m., Burt 193. Using Geo-Electrical Methods to Monitor Bio-Geochemical Processes in the Near Subsurface (SBI Special Seminar). Dr. Dimitris Ntarlagiannis from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University will review his work in the new field of biogeophysics, including the basics, an introduction to IP-resistivity, SP and EP, a discussion of his experiments with the methods, and where the research is heading. FMI: Rick Colwell,

Wednesday, February 25, 4-5 p.m., Kidder 278. An overview of state of Oregon policies related to fossil fuels, biofuels and carbon sequestration. Presented by Brent Searle/Stephanie Page, Oregon Dept of Agriculture Renewable Energy Program. FMI: Emmalie Goodwin, 737 5093.

Wednesday, March 4, 3:30-4:30 p.m., ALS 4001. John Hamer, Burrill & Company (CGRB Seminar). Host: Scott Givan Held on campus at ALS 4001.

Conference Information

March 20, Deadline to submit an abstract for the 2009 ASM Conference for Undergraduate Education - The conference will be held May 28 to 31 at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, Colo. This year’s plenary talks include: “Bacteria for Bioenergy: Hydrogen Gas Production,” given by Caroline Harwood of the University of Washington; “Biofilms Opposites: Pathogenesis and Drug Discovery from Uncultured Species,” presented by Kim Lewis of Northeastern University; “Microbial Basis for Life on Earth,” given by Thomas Schmidt of Michigan State University and more. Save $100 by registering for the conference by March 20. Abstracts submissions are due February 20, and travel grant applications are due March 20, and Micro Brew submissions are due March 30.

2009 ASM Presentation Institute - May 16 and 17 in Philadelphia, Pa. (immediately prior to the ASM General Meeting). Graduate students at the master’s or doctoral level are encouraged to apply for a two-day workshop that helps participants develop the skills needed to make successful presentations at scientific meetings and to interact professionally with colleagues. Apply by March 15, 2009.

Batelle 10th International In Situ and On-Site Bioremediation Symposium, May 5-8, 2009 in Baltimore, MD - The symposium integrates recent developments in risk assessment, fundamental research, and innovative engineering applications for both traditional and emerging contaminants. The Bioremediation Symposium offers a broad perspective on environmental biotechnology worldwide.

Link to a calendar of other related events...


Opportunities for Students

Nation Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship - This program provides a unique educational experience to students enrolled in graduate programs in fields related to marine or Great Lakes studies. The program matches highly qualified graduate students with hosts in the legislative branch, the executive branch, or appropriate associations and institutions located in the Washington, D.C. area. Recipients spend one year working on substantive national policy issues related to marine issues; a stipend is provided. Applications due: February 20, 2009.

ASM Congressional Science Fellowship. This program selects a postdoctoral to mid-career microbiologist to spend one year on the staff of an individual congressman, congressional committee or with some other appropriate organizational unit of Congress. The award will include a $60,000 stipend plus health care. The fellowship runs from September 1, 2009 to August 31, 2009. Applications due: February 20, 2009.

OSU Undergraduate Research, Innovation, Scholarship & Creativity Summer Grants - The URISC Fund is intended to enable undergraduate students to initiate a scholarly relationship with faculty early in their academic careers. Awards are made to support scholarly, creative, and research activities and can support student wages, travel and some other expenses. For the summer program, the Research Office will provide 60% of the total budget request to a maximum of $1,800. Proposals due Monday, March 2, 2009.


Funding Opportunities for Faculty

(listed by due date)

16 February 2009. OSU General Research Fund (GRF).

Description: The intent of the GRF is to enable OSU faculty to carry out scholarly, creative work that should lead to the pursuit of other funding sources, or promote the development of scholarly activities. Projects funded through the GRF could include: pilot research, emergency funding, emerging research opportunities, new research field or new research field for investigator, developing research laboratories, or centrally-shared research resources.
Funding Details: Maximum award is $10,000.

2 March 2009. USDA CSREES and NSF Microbial Genome Sequencing Program.

Description: The sequences are expected to be available to and used by a community of investigators to address issues of scientific and societal importance including: novel aspects of microbial biochemistry, physiology, metabolism, development and cellular biology; the diversity and the roles microorganisms play in complex ecosystems and in global geochemical cycles; the impact that microorganisms have on the productivity and sustainability of agriculture and natural resources (e.g., forestry, soil and water), and on the safety and quality of the nation's food supply; and the organization and evolution of microbial genomes, and the mechanisms of transmission, exchange and reshuffling of genetic information.
Funding Details: Awards ranging between $100,000 to $1,200,000 total, for periods of up to three years.

10 March 2009. NSF: Collaboration in Mathematical Geosciences.

Description: The purpose of the Collaboration in Mathematical Geosciences (CMG) activity is to enable collaborative research at the intersection of mathematical sciences and geosciences, and to encourage cross-disciplinary education. Projects should fall within one of three broad themes: (1) mathematical and statistical modeling of complex geosystems, (2) understanding and quantifying uncertainty in geosystems, or (3) analyzing large/complex geoscience data sets. Research projects supported under this activity must be essentially collaborative in nature. Research groups must include at least one mathematical/statistical scientist and at least one geoscientist. Proposals that address problems with relevance to global change and sustainability are especially encouraged.

Preproposal due: 16 March 2009. NIEHS Superfund Basic Research and Training Program (SBRP), Multiproject Program Grants (P42) (Full Proposal due: 15 April 2009).

Description: SBRP grants support coordinated, multi-project, multi- and interdisciplinary research programs that have both a biomedical and non-biomedical (engineering, geochemical and ecological sciences) components. SBRP grants will support coordinated, multi-project, interdisciplinary research programs to address the mandates legislated under the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986. These mandates include the development of (1) methods and technologies to detect hazardous substances in the environment; (2) advanced techniques for the detection, assessment, and evaluation of the effect on human health of hazardous substances; (3) methods to assess the risks to human health presented by hazardous substances; and (4) basic biological, chemical, and physical methods to reduce the amount and toxicity of hazardous substances. The objective for the SBRP is to develop a holistic research agenda for the protection of human health. This is accomplished by the establishment of interdisciplinary programs that link and integrate biomedical research with related engineering, hydrogeologic, and ecologic components within the context of unique scientific themes developed by the applicant.
Funding Details: The NIEHS intends to commit a total of approximately $11.0 million dollars in FY 2010 to fund four to five SBRP grants in response to this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA).

17 March 2009. James S. McDonnell Foundation: Studying Complex Systems.

Description: The Complex Systems program supports scholarship and research directed toward the development of theoretical and mathematical tools that can be applied to the study of complex, adaptive, nonlinear systems. It is anticipated that research funded in this program will address issues in fields such as biology, biodiversity, climate, demography, epidemiology, technological change, economic development, governance, or computation. While the program's emphasis is on the development and application of theoretical models used in these research fields and not on particular fields per se, JSMF is particularly interested in projects attempting to apply complex systems approaches to meaningful problems. Proposals attempting to apply complex system tools and models to problems where such approaches are not yet considered usual or mainstream (for example, differentiating normal physiology from disease) are encouraged.
Funding Details: Investigator-initiated research awards providing up to $450,000 for up to 6 years.

The SBI has funding available for proposal development and maintains a list of external grant opportunities related to the subsurface biosphere.

This newsletter is distributed by OSU's Subsurface Biosphere Initiative - an interdisciplinary consortium of faculty and students who share interests in underground ecosystems. The newsletter is distributed through the SBI email lists. To subscribe or unsubscribe, go to Questions, comments and newsletter topics may be sent to the Newsletters are also available on the Web at