November 2017 Meeting

Monday, November 13, 2017
6:00 - 7:30 pm

Pellissippi State Technical Community College
10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville
J.L Goins Administration Building
Faculty/Staff Dining Room


High-throughput Sequencing as a Microbial Diagnostic Tool
for Defining and Managing Environmental Processes


Dr. Andrea Rocha
Geosyntec Consultants
Knoxville, Tennessee


Environmental microbial diagnostics is a rapidly evolving field that enables understanding of causal relationships between the microbial community and the environment that would be too challenging to otherwise investigate. Although in its infancy, this practice area has a wide range of applications, including the development of predictive models, cleanup and monitoring strategies, and bioremediation and biogeochemistry. Examples of areas where this technical approach is specifically beneficial to managing and monitoring environmental processes with greater fidelity than currently practiced include the investigation of potable groundwater for bioindicators of surface water intrusion; bioreactors for changes in microbial community composition; and identification of indicators of a contaminant event. Microbial diagnostic approaches also function as both leading and lagging indicators of environmental changes that may affect water quality, remediation performance, or process outputs. This presentation discusses practical examples of where the use of high-throughput DNA sequencing of environmental samples provided diagnostic information to understand factors that influenced the DNA signature of specific environments.


Dr. Andrea Rocha is a Senior Staff Scientist at Geosyntec Consultants, Knoxville, Tennessee where she supports a number of projects including surface water intrusion of groundwater, Monitored Natural Attenuation (MNA), and enhanced bioremediation sites. Her primary interest includes the application of molecular technologies for defining and managing environmental processes and the implementation of newly developed biotechnology for microbial detection and assessment. Prior to joining Geosyntec, Andrea worked as a postdoctoral research associate in the Biosciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory where she designed, managed, and executed efficient field studies to investigate and characterize keystone microbial species differences along geochemical gradients, including chemical contaminants, in groundwater and subsurface environments. Andrea is an award-winning interdisciplinary trained microbiologist with proven success in spearheading projects, leading multi-disciplinary teams toward project completion, establishing collaborations across organizations and Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories. She holds a B.S. in Biology Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, M.S. in Oceanography from Old Dominion University, and a Ph.D. in Engineering Science from the University of South Florida.


Page updated May 26, 2018