Erica Majumder

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biochemistry

In my research, I am interested in finding out how naturally-existing bacteria in the soil interact with and chemically change toxic metals to a form that is either safer for humans or easier to remove. Bacteria are found everywhere on Earth, and although some get a bad reputation as germs, the majority of bacteria do not cause disease and carry out functions that are essential for life. Some bacteria live on the roots of plants and supply the nitrogen plants need to grow. Some bacteria live in your stomach and intestines, the gut microbiome, and help you digest your food and produce vitamins that human cells cannot make. The bacteria I study live in the soil or freshwater systems and have helpful functions in wastewater treatment or metal remediation. My job is to find out how the bacteria do these useful processes. When we know the mechanism, we can more effectively control the processes in the environment or create man-made replicas of the process. I specifically study how these soil bacteria transform uranium to a less toxic state at nuclear waste sites from the Manhattan Project.

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