• We are broadly interested in water sustainability, which spans drinking water, wastewater, and natural aquatic environments. Specifically, our research takes a systems thinking approach to water quality and treatment that considers global drivers such as urbanization, climate change, biogeochemical cycles, sustainable engineering, and disruptive innovation. Examples include coupling laboratory experiments and life cycle assessment to evaluate the sustainability of novel approaches to drinking water treatment such as ion exchange, and using comprehensive laboratory, pilot, and field experiments to inform the design of urine source separation and treatment systems considering urine collection, nutrient recovery, pharmaceutical removal, and beneficial use. 

     Treavor Boyer Ph.D., Associate Professor

  • I want to thank The Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology for continuing to host the Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance. You’re infrastructural support and work on our Advisory Committee have been pivotal in helping us get off the ground and stabilize a North American sustainability initiative that will protect our waters from the deleterious effects of nutrient pollution from farms, cities, and other sources. In addition, I’m grateful that you’ve provided me with the resources I needed to manage the National Science Foundation’s Phosphorus Sustainability Research Coordination Network, which has been prodigious over the years in its output of scientific articles, workshops, and seminars.

    Matt Scholz Ph.D., Program Manager, 2017, Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance

  • My name is Andrew Marcus, and I’m an Assistant Research Professor at the Swette Center, specializing in mathematical modeling of microbial systems in human health and the environment.  I organize bi-weekly mathematical modeling meetings attended by 5 to 10 students, on average.  The Swette Center is helping me transition from a being an independent researcher to having more advisory roles by attracting bright and talented graduate students. 

    Andrew Marcus Ph.D., Asst. Research Professor, 2017

  • What I love about the Swette Center is that we are focused on making lemonade out of lemons – turning overlooked and underappreciated waste streams into energy, clean water, and valuable byproducts.  My work in the Swette Center allows me to explore this hidden potential through cutting edge technologies like microbial electrochemical cells and fundamental tools like chemical and molecular tools and mathematical modeling.  When combined, these tools are leading to faster and more efficient commercialization of technologies that will facilitate clean water production and energy recovery in the first and third worlds.  

    Michelle Young, Ph.D. Candidate, 2017, Rittmann and Torres Labs 

  • Our research focused on using algae for producing high value products, bioremediation, and carbon capture. The center has a dedicated PBR team that allows for extensive research on algae from production of biomass through product capture. 

    Yen Jung (Sean) Lai Ph.D., Research Scientist, 2017, Rittmann Lab 

  • Early this year, I successfully published our first paper for the autism Fecal Microbiome Transfer project sponsored by Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR). This is a great example of collaboration, since the paper has 17 co-authors from more than four universities and two clinics in Arizona, Minnesota, Boston, and Australia. We are continuing collaborations with an aim to publish multiple papers. Through the small and large projects listed above, I have supported Dr. Krajmalnik-Brown to build up and/or continue collaborations both inside and outside the university including Caltech, University of Colorado at Denver, Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. I believe that our collaborative achievements have taken our research performance to the next-level, making us one of the leading national and international groups studying autism.  

    Daewook Kang Ph.D., Assistant Research Scientist, 2017, Krajmalnik-Brown Lab

  • My research interests seek a fundamental understanding of energy conversion processes through microbial reactions transforming electrons in organic wastes.  My research goals are to approach subjects in a multi-disciplinary way and to develop technical innovations in environmental engineering, electrochemistry, microbial ecology, and sustainable energy challenging current wastewater treatment technologies.  

    Dongwon Ki Ph.D., postdoc, Torres Lab  

  • I work on phosphorus (P) sustainability and my research mainly focuses on P budget in agricultural and urban systems. The SWETTE Center enables me to learn cutting edge wastewater treatment technologies and to seek collaborations on P sustainability research. 

    Neng Iong Chan, Ph.D. Student, Rittmann and Elser Labs  

  • I study microbial communities, their structure (i.e. composition) and function (i.e. products generated) before and after a natural or anthropogenic disturbance and their role in the ecosystem. During my dissertation, I focused on microbial communities involved in the production of biofuels (H2, ethanol, methane) and useful chemicals (e.g., plastic and biofuel precursors) from waste and pollutants. As part of my research I isolated and studied several anaerobic (and fastidious) microorganisms. The Swette Center is an ideal place to study microorganisms and to partner with them for the benefit of society. Our center provides the necessary engineering and microbiology tools to do high-quality and high-impact research that is necessary to improve our world.  

    Sofia Esquivel Elizondo Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher, Krajmalnik-Brown Lab

  • I study Techno-Economics which examines the relationships between production cost modeling and engineering design choices.  My end goal is to help researchers in the Swette Center make research and design choices which will ultimately result in commercializable products and services.  Although I don’t invent any new technologies, I provide insights which are often neglected in the research process.  Fortunately, the Swette Center leadership is forward-looking in including Techno-Economics at all stages of the innovation and research processes.  

    Robert Stirling, Techno-Economist

  • I am working on a joint project between FutureH2O and Boyer Research Group to develop a cyber-physical system for water quality sensing and real time data display to enable tap water conservation and ensure tap water safety in buildings.  The idea of the project is that the age of water in a building’s piping impacts the chemical and biological safety and human perception in the quality of tap water.  By integrating a wireless network of sensors and data analysis with building piping, this will enable human-operated and automated building management systems to improve water quality and consumers build confidence in the quality of their tap water.  

    Carlos Leyva Ph.D., Engineer Associate, FutureH2O, Boyer Lab

  • My research focuses on managing microbial communities to provide services on sustainable closed-loop processes.  To be more specific, I am working on bacteria mediated removal, recovery, and reuse.  This requires interdisciplinary partnership, which is enabled in the Swette Center owing to its famous culture of cross-disciplinary and team-based research.  In addition, our seed project on palladium has made several milestone achievements including three literature publications, one international PCT patent application, and formation of one company.  These would not have been possible without the Swette Endowment. 

    Chen Zhou Ph.D., Assistant Research Scientist, Rittmann Lab

  • I am a collaborating scholar with the Swette Center via my work with Precient Technologies, LLC- a start-up company being developed in collaboration with the Swette Center to commercialize membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR) technology for the purpose of capturing precious metals, including platinum and palladium, from contaminated commercial mining operations. I also collaborated with members of the center to publish in Microbial Biotechnology and currently have another article compiled with members from the Swette Center under review.

    Bradley Lusk Ph.D., Consultant

  • Being a member of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology has allowed me to reach milestones that I have set forth for myself with a greater ease than I initially expected. I have recently finished my first year as a PhD student, which I could not have done without the help of the members of the Center. I look forward to working with them as my work progresses into the next few years of my studies. 

    Daniella Saetta, Ph.D. Student, Boyer Lab

  • I am currently developing research in the field of mathematical modeling of Microbial Electrochemical Cells with a special focus on Anode Respiring Bacterial biofilms. I have been able to perform this research because of the great facilities and equipment that can be found in the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology. The access to faster computers and internet with access to scientific papers has been helpful.  Also, thanks to the great expertise from the Swette Center researchers in mathematical modeling that I have access to (from Dr. Andrew Kato Marcus), my work is been advanced. 

    Isaias Peraza, Ph.D. student, Rittmann and Marcus Labs

  • The Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology has enabled me to maximize the number of questions I can ask, trends I can visualize from data, and collaborators to work with as a researcher. I am a third year Microbiology Ph.D. student that studies how to stimulate methane production in solid waste landfills with the intention to incentivize it for combustion into energy and/or other sustainable bio-based products. Simply stated, BSCEB is a helpful and engaging community to be a member of not simply because of the sheer number of bright-minds in the center, but also the resources available throughout the labs.  

    Mark Reynolds, Ph.D. Student, Cadillo-Quiroz Lab

  • I am currently working to develop a biogeochemical model to gain fundamental understanding of microbial denitrification for soil stabilization to increase infrastructure resilience against natural hazards that threaten trillions of dollars of infrastructure and the well-being of people world-wide. The research results will determine which methods have the strongest potential to mitigate risk, while remaining sustainable and at a reduced environmental impact. The Center has given me the opportunity to collaborate with the best researchers both within the center and globally. Furthermore, BSCEB has provided a community for me to talk through my ideas and mentors who inspire me to achieve my greater potential.

    Caitlyn Hall, Ph.D. Student, Rittmann Lab 

  • My research interests are primarily focused on elucidating the role of microbial metabolism, physiology and ecology involved in driving environmental geochemical processes. This is done by combining classic and molecular microbiology techniques with soil chemistry and statistical modelling to quantitatively describe and predict microbial and geochemical functionality. Collaborations with the Swette Center, in particular with researchers in the Torres Laboratory, have been essential in developing practical methodologies for biogeochemical analyses.  

    Damien Finn, Postdoctoral Researcher, Cadillo-Quiroz Lab 

  • The Swette Center has enabled collaboration across multiple fields and provided my graduate school training with tools and resources that otherwise would not be available to me. I want people to understand how important microbiology is to everyday life and how often we rely on microbiological processes without even knowing.  

    Analissa Sarno, Ph.D. Student, Cadillo-Quiroz Lab

  • My research seeks to describe the mechanisms that govern how the human gut microbiome functions and to reliably quantify those mechanisms in order to fundamentally understand the gut microbiome. The goal of my project is to help build an accurate computer model that describes changes in the host’s and bacterial microbiome’s metabolisms as well as the interactions between the two. The Center provides the opportunity to collaborate with experts from diverse fields such as chemical engineering, environmental engineering, nutrition, and human health.  

    Blake Dirks, Ph.D. Student, Krajmalnik-Brown Lab

  • I am learning and using molecular biology, electrochemistry, and microscopy to understand anode respiring bacteria. 

    Ethan Howley, Ph.D. Student, Torres Lab

  • I am a first year PhD student studying chemical engineering. When I joined the program, I did not intend to be working in a biology lab; however, I am really enjoying learning a whole new field of study while doing my research. My focus is in mathematical modeling of complex systems. The current project I am working on is modeling the microbiome within the human gut. I recently joined the Swette Center and have found all my fellow scientists here to be wonderful to work with. Everyone is both fun and focused. It is a great environment to work in and I am glad I can be here. 

    Taylor Davis, Ph.D. Student, Krajmalnik-Brown and Rittmann

  • This was my first year as the coordinator for the Swette Center. I have felt empowered and supported in my endeavors to create a work and research space that is safe and innovative. Our Center has been complimented multiple times by EH&S for our dedication to compliance and our willingness to test run new policies. I run the safety blog and also illustrate a safety comic specific to our Center called, “Larry the Lab Lizard.” Finding new and innovative ways to encourage lab safety has been my biggest goal this year and with the help of the members of our Center I think we largely succeeded in this endeavor. 

    Sarah Arrowsmith M.S., Research Laboratory Coordinator, 2017

  • Currently, I am working on my Master’s thesis project to study the effect of dilution on ammonium and potassium sorption in real hydrolyzed urine using two natural zeolites: Chabazite and Clinoptilolite. I will be using the key findings to illustrate the possible benefits of urine source separation for wastewater treatment. Swette Center has not only provided me with all the resources for my research-lab equipment and supplies, but has also provided a sound and friendly work environment. 

    Urusha Regmi, M.S. Student, Boyer Lab

  • For the ONR2 project, Dr. Torres, Dr. Papacharalampos, and I are developing an underwater fuel cell to power sensors for the US Navy. Commonplace batteries run the risk of heavy metal leaks and contaminating an extensive area of marine ecosystems, so developing a compact, eco-friendly, efficient biofuel cell for these submarine sensors is of upmost importance. BSCEB and the US Navy has generously provided us with the resources to develop and build 2 prototypes for these fuel cells.

    Francisco Brown-Munoz, Masters Student, 2017, Torres Lab

  • I am doing my thesis under supervision of Dr. Rittmann. Thanks to our center, I could have such great chances to start my own project in this excellent platform. And I could get to know so many people who did great job in environmental area. I learnt a lot and be grateful to all I have experienced here.  

    Chenwei Zheng, M.S. Student, Rittmann Lab

  • As a Swette Undergraduate Research Intern, I have worked with Dr. Andrew Marcus and Dr. Bruce Rittmann to develop a mathematical model of a photobioreactor containing Synechocystis sp PCC6803. This experience has been incredibly formative, as I’ve developed critical thinking and technical skills that have helped me to succeed in both my research goals and my undergraduate career. I will be defending my undergraduate thesis this upcoming semester, titled “Exploring the consequences of nutrient recycling in a photobioreactor using multi-component, community-level modelling“. I have also had the opportunity to discuss my research at two conferences in the past year. Ultimately, I am very thankful for this opportunity and would recommend working with BSCEB to anyone, given the chance.  

    Ben Wik, Undergraduate, Rittmann and Marcus Labs

  • I have enjoyed working at SCEB for the past two years, during which time I successfully completed an honors undergraduate degree in Genetics, Cell and Developmental Biology through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Magna Cum Laude, December 2017) and made lasting friendships and professional connections. While at SCEB, I co-authored a paper with my colleague Srivatsan on the use of zero valent iron (ZVI) in remediating trichloroethene-contaminated soil and groundwater, which pose a significant threat to human health. Our research led to the development of effective in-situ bioremediation strategies for Superfund sites, and allowed me to write and defend an original honors thesis relating to the chemical aspects of ZVI-mediated reductive dechlorination. Through the generous support of SCEB and my wonderful professors, Dr. Krajmalnik-Brown and Dr. Delgado, I gained valuable research experience and contributed to advancing our center’s goal of reducing pollution and improving human health. 

    Aatikah Mouti, Undergraduate, Krajmalnik-Brown and Delgado Labs

  • I am an undergraduate research assistant who is helping two PhD students in their research on the effect of soil ozonation on TPH reduction. The Center has enabled me to begin research as a young undergraduate to help me hone skills that I hope to use in the future as a prospective PhD student. 

    Brielle Januszewski, Civil (Environmental) Engineering, B.S.E 2020, Barrett, the Honors College, ASU

  • The Swette Center has greatly benefited my education. I am currently an Arizona State University student who is graduating this spring in May 2018 with a Bachelors of Science in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. I have always wanted an environmental focus for my education and volunteering for the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology has given me the resources I needed to fulfill this goal. I am currently volunteering for course credit by assisting Steven Hart with his research for testing the degradation of municipal sewage sludges under different systems and conditions. Through his helpful instruction, I am proud to say that I have been accepted to do a presentation at the WEF Residuals and Biosolids conference in May 2018. Through the helpful instruction and support of the Swette staff, I feel excited to achieve my career goals. 

    Collette Wilson, Undergraduate