Dr. Roseanne Ford, Chemical Engineer

Roseanne Ford

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Professor, Chemical Engineering
School of Engineering & Applied Scince
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Our research focuses on the application of chemical engineering principles to problems in microbial ecology. The aim is to develop a fundamental understanding of mechanisms underlying microbial behavior which will provide insights for future technological innovation.

Bacterial biofilms are ubiquitous. They play a role in the pathogenesis of disease (from dental caries to cystic fibrosis), bioremediation of polluted groundwater and biofouling in chemical manufacturing. Find out how the swimming behavior of bacteria affects attachment to surfaces and the subsequent formation of biofilms.

What we view as chemical pollutants in groundwater, bacteria see as a new carbon source for their diet. The trick is getting the bacteria and the contaminant together so they can go to work on cleaning up our mess. See how chemotaxis may enhance the remediation process.

Some microorganisms love the heat. Learn how they find the hot spots and what keeps them coming back for more.

Listen to swimming bacteria!

The sounds you hear are generated from video images of swimming bacteria. Dr. Ford’s lab sonifies the visual data by mapping the position of each individual bacteria to a frequency or pitch. Then they listen to these sounds to detect differences in the swimming behavior of a population of bacteria when they are exposed to different chemical stimuli. Differences are more difficult to detect visually because there is so much chaotic motion associated with individual cells swimming that one’s eyes are easily distracted from the trends in the overall population behavior. Dr. Ford’s lab plans to use this as a screening tool to determine what chemicals elicit a response from the bacteria. One application is to detect chemical contaminants in polluted groundwater that the bacteria are also able to consume and biologically degrade.

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