Salem, VA—Dr. J. Brooks Crozier, assistant professor of biology, was recently awarded a $14,630 grant from the Virginia Water Resources Research Center to support his research.
Crozier, with his team of undergraduate students, is researching the fecal bacterium Enterococcus, an indicator of pollution in water, by developing a molecular method based on a bacterium’s DNA, or gene sequence.
By tracking Enterococcus from humans and animals, Crozier and his team will determine the source of the bacteria to help pinpoint a pollution source. Enterococcus from humans and cows, for example, will have similar gene sequences, but there may be some DNA sequences in each that are significantly different. Knowing these differences, scientists can pinpoint the source of pollution. Eventually there will be a database of sequence differences which will be used to identify a sample’s source.
“Any community can be affected by the pathogens in water from human and animal fecal matter,” Crozier says, “This research could significantly increase the quality of water and therefore could impact all communities.”
Bringing graduate-level microbiology to Roanoke students is a focus of this project as well.
Biology major Caitlin O’Callaghan, who is assisting Crozier, says, “This program is tedious, but rewarding and is an excellent opportunity for me,” O’Callaghan says, “To work directly in a lab on this type of research is a huge advantage and one of the reasons I attended Roanoke.”
Roanoke College, the country’s second oldest Lutheran-related college, is an independent, co-educational, four-year liberal arts college. Roanoke is one of just 270 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the “best in the Southeast.” Roanoke’s 1,900 students represent 41 states across the U.S. and 25 foreign countries.
For additional information, call the Roanoke College Public Relations Office at (540) 375-2282.