top of page
Group theme.png

Environmental Monitoring

Humans and animals shed viruses via various routes, including respiratory secretions, feces, and urine. These viruses ultimately end in environmental samples, such as wastewater and indoor aerosols. The assemblage of viruses (i.e., virome) in the environmental samples may shift when individuals are infected by contagious viruses. Therefore, environmental samples are of great value to provide signals of diseases at the community level. We are particularly interested in developing robust but low-cost methods to enrich viruses from complex environmental matrices, understanding the dynamics of environmental virome in response to infectious diseases, and discovering new biomarkers to predict future endemics and pandemics. We collaborate closely with our community stakeholders, industry partners, academic collaborators, and government agencies to make our impacts.


Funded projects:

  • NSF CCF #2200173, ”Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention Phase I: Center for ecosystems data integration and pandemic early warning

  • CDC Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC), ”Wastewater surveillance to support COVID-19 response and expand New York State health security

  • Erie County Department of Health award #91287, ”SARS-CoV-2 wastewater monitoring program for Erie County

Pathogen inactivation

Human-pathogenic viruses can preserve their infectivity in the environments, including water, air, and soils. It is important to apply effective engineering countermeasures to inactivate or remove these viruses before they encounter the next hosts. However, it is challenging to study inactivation kinetics of viruses in laboratory because viruses are constantly mutated and many of them might be difficult or too dangerous to handle. To address these issues, we innovate proteomic and genomic analysis to advance mechanistic understanding of the molecular features that drive virus inactivation. We leverage molecular structures simulation and machine-learning tools to develop models that predict the effectiveness of virus inactivation.

Funded projects:

  • NSF CBET #2212779, ”Insights into biomolecular reactivity and structure for virus inactivation prediction

  • UB School of Public Health and Health Professions Pilot Funding Program, ”Reducing health impacts of airborne exposure to traffic air pollution and virus transmission: An intervention study on bus drivers

Microbial Behaviors

Various environmental variables in nature and engineered systems have a significant impact on the behaviors of microorganisms. In many cases, environmental factors, such as solar irradiance and temperatures, would lead to enhanced microbial pathogenicity. We are interested in two mechanisms that are closely related to antimicrobial resistance. One is the turn-on of natural competence through which microbes can uptake extracellular DAN more efficiently. The other is the production of extracellular vesicles, where antimicrobial resistance genes and virulence proteins are likely incorporated for dissemination. We aim to develop sensitive omics approaches that monitor and quantify the biomarkers associated with the two mechanisms and explore the link between environmental variables and elevated pathogenicity.

Funded projects:

  • NSF CAREER #2338677, "CAREER: Bacterial extracellular vesicles in wastewater systems: Persistence and production to disseminate virulence proteins"

  • UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, "Impacts of solar radiation and temperature on the development of antimicrobial resistance in agricultural soils"

Funding Sources

erie doh.jpg
nys doh.png
bottom of page