Welcome to the environmental microbiology lab at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Located in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering in the UNC School of Public Health, the laboratory pursues research on a broad range of topics relating to microbes in the environment and implications for public health. The main thrust of our research concerns gastrointestinal and other diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, or other microbes that arise primarily from human or animal fecal wastes, sewage, and other sources. This lab has existed since 1974 and is directed by Professor Mark D. Sobsey.

Current news!

$10^7 prize for 100 human genomes in 10 days
Who wants to pull an all-nighter? Here is a link to the New York Times article. The nucleic acids core facility charges $10 for 1 kb, so how much money would we net by this approach? (first correct answer to Dave Love will win a prize)

Christine Stauber spotted in ENVRSO
Christine was recognized in the ENVRSO website recently. Here is a link to her brief article.

Congratulations Dr. Simmons!
A Sobsey alumni is the newest Research Assistant Professor in our department.

Engineers Without Borders
with help from Joe Brown and other students in ESE help bring water to a school outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia. See articles on the School of Public Health website and another similar article in Endeavors magazine.

Bench space is growing
with the addition of 3 labs on the 3rd floor of McGavran Greenberg Hall, as of Summer 2006.

What is Microbiology?
See for yourself on Wikipedia or add your own nnterpretation. A quick search shows the coliphage page is sorely lacking. Can anybody help?

Coliphage demonstration documents
from the 2005 Biennial Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC) are now available to download from our documents page. Brian Robinson, a NOAA researcher, and Greg Lovelace were demonstrating coliphage methods at the ISSC meeting (pictured at right).

"Environmentally Superior Technologies"
for the swine industry are being identified by Dr. Mark Sobsey, his researchers in the Environmental Microbiology laboratory, and collaborators and NCSU. link to UNC

Point of Use Drinking Water team wins USEPA's first annual P3 Award.
The UNC team consisting of Christine Stauber, Joe Brown, Lisa Casanova, and Mark Elliot was one of 7 teams to win the prestigious award, among 65 applicant groups. "The research project is determining and comparing the costs, health and economic benefits, and performance effectiveness of three drinking-water treatment technologies intended for the developing world. The project is measuring the effectiveness of these three technologies for improving water quality and is comparing the cost-effectiveness of the three systems." (source: EPA website) link to EPA

Household water treatment and the Millennium Development Goals
Millennium Development Goal 7, Target 10 is to "halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water" (UN 2000). If current trends in improved water source provision remain constant, much of the world is projected to achieve the goal of access to an "improved" water source (such as a piped water system or a protected well) by 2015, with the exception of Sub-Saharan Africa (WHO/UNICEF 2005). But improved water sources may not always equal microbiologically safe water. Piped systems become compromised through intermittent service, illicit connections, inadequate treatment, and low pressure. While an estimated 83% of the population in developing countries has access to some form of improved water supply, only 42% of these have access to safe water at the household level, such as a tap in the yard or inside the house (WHO/UNICEF 2005). The remainder must fetch water and store it for use in the home, which has been associated with increased water contamination through unsafe water handling and storage practices (Wright, Gundry et al. 2004). For the estimated 1.1 billion people without access to improved water sources and the many more without access to safe water, household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS) technology can play an important role in protecting public health.

          Site last updated 4 October 2006