Project Details


The objective of this three year summer REU program is to engage students in an international research effort to compare the ability of aquatic and sediment microbial communities in geographically distinct regions to mediate the biotransformation of historic chlorinated compounds , e.g. PCBs and a important class of emerging global contaminants, brominated flame retardants (BFRs), e.g.PBDE. All students will meet for a one week 'scientific boot camp' to prepare to carry out experiments that compare the geographical differences in microbial communities and their metabolism of BFRs. Several students will then travel to China, to examine tropical microbial communities and carry out their experiments at the South China University of Technology (SCUT) and the Chinese National Academy Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry (GIG). Several students will do the same with sub-Arctic microbial communities and work at the University of Helsinki (UH). The other students will be doing parallel experiments at Rutgers with temperate climate microbial communities. All students will reconvene for one week to compare their results, share their findings and develop a set of conclusions regarding the role of biogeography on the fate of BFRs in aquatic and sediment environments. The overall impact is to have students recognize the universality of scientific inquiry regardless of international borders and the global distribution of contaminants, as well as to determine the diversity of microorganisms and their biochemical mechanisms for metabolizing new anthropogenically created organic pollutants in the environment.The project aims to promote international exchange of students to foster science across global and cultural boundaries. The educational component will be coordinated with the research component as follows: 1) all students will meet for a week at Rutgers University at the start of the program to plan, prepare and learn about the project objectives and the coordination of efforts; 2) weekly videoconferences will take place with all participants; 3) all students and their international student partners and mentors will meet for a Student Symposium at Rutgers University at the end of the program to follow-up on their results and conclusions. The partner institutions will co-support the activities, including support of students from their own institution (SCUT and UH) to travel and participate in the Student Symposium at Rutgers. Rutgers University is one of the most diverse AAU institutions and a broad range of applicants will be sought from all over the US with special outreach to underrepresented groups through the RISE program at Rutgers and with personal contacts and recruitment visits to undergraduate institutions.
Effective start/end date3/1/112/28/14


  • National Science Foundation (National Science Foundation (NSF))

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