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Research Initiation Award: Metagenomic Approach to Assess Water Quality and Microbial Load Variability of an Urban Watershed


Research Initiation Awards provide support for junior and mid-career faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities who are building new research programs or redirecting and rebuilding existing programs. It is expected that the award helps to further the faculty member's research capability and effectiveness, improves research and teaching at the home institution, and involves undergraduate students in research experiences. The study will enhance the understanding of the composition, diversity, and richness of bacterial communities by evaluating the microbial community, characterize variability in time and space and compare microbial community between an urban watershed and an unimpacted watershed.<br/><br/>The development of microbiome studies based on DNA sequencing has led to more thorough investigations of the effect of environmental conditions on microbial community composition. Despite recent advances in sequencing technologies, identifying the ecological mechanisms that underlie microbial community structure and functional diversity remains a major challenge. This challenge is particularly important for highly dynamic ecosystems such as flowing-waters of urban systems. This project will provide new information on how microbial communities persist and change within an urban watershed using metagenomic techniques. It is expected that temporally, the microbial community in the fall and winter months will be distinct from the microbial community in the spring and summer months, while spatially, the microbial community immediately downstream from anthropogenic inputs will be distinct from natural systems. The findings from this study will improve our understanding of the way urbanization shapes stream microbial communities and provide insight of how microbial communities persist and change within an urban watershed.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Ethell Vereen
Morehouse College
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