Research Overview

Biological processes play major roles in many aspects of environmental science and engineering. We strive to attain a better fundamental understanding of environmentally relevant biological processes to inform the scientific and non-scientific communities and to facilitate environmental decision-making at all levels.


Research Goals

A primary research goal is to fundamentally understand how specific organic contaminants are biotransformed by microorganisms in subsurface environments. Over the past several years, we have discovered novel biodegradation pathways, characterized novel bacterial cultures and have demonstrated the efficacy of bioremediation in field trials.

To facilitate this endeavor, we apply new technologies in molecular biology, microbiology, analytical chemistry and genomics to the field of environmental engineering. Biological processes play a major role in the attenuation and detoxification of organic contaminants in the environment, and a better fundamental understanding of these processes is crucial to judicial choice of wastewater treatment and groundwater cleanup strategies.


  • Characterization of rates and mechanisms of microbial transformation reactions of chlorinated ethenes, chlorinated ethanes, perchlorate, and aromatic hydrocarbons in anaerobic groundwater environments.
  • Characterization of microbial communities involved in biodegradation using molecular techniques (PCR/cloning; DGGE, FISH, DNA Microarrays). Isolation of novel microbial species that are responsible for anaerobic biotransformation reactions. Elucidation of biochemical pathways.
  • Using DNA microarrays to develop methods for monitoring catabolic gene activity in wastewatertreatment plants, and for detecting specific endocrine-disrupting compounds in the environment.
  • BioZone – Centre for Applied Bioengineering Research
  • BEEM – Bioproducts + Enzymes from Environmental Metagenomes
  • INTEGRATE – Innovative Technologies for Groundwater Remediation


Industrial Collaborators

We have on-going collaborations with GeoSyntec Consultants Inc. and SiREM Labs in Guelph Ontario to further develop and deploy bioremediation strategies.