Microbiology Research and Services

Our microbiologists design and conduct basic and applied research in microbiology, molecular biology, and aerobiology. Specializing in biological aerosols, we validate air cleaning devices for bioaerosol inactivation and removal according to nationally accepted standards, evaluate mold-resistant building materials, characterize microbial populations in environmental samples, and develop methods for complementary molecular approaches.

We also research bioterrorism-associated biological aerosols and the environmental causes of allergy and asthma. This work includes detection of, decontamination of, and protection from biowarfare agents. We have expanded into homeland security and defense projects with evaluations of equipment for the rapid detection of bioterrorism agents.

We perform in-vitro studies; assay development; polymerase chain reaction (PCR), real-time PCR, and qPCR; molecular cloning and transformation; western blots; and isolation, identification, and quantitation of bacteria, fungi, and bacterial viruses.

Microbiology Facilities

Our microbiology facilities are fully equipped to collect, characterize, study, inactivate, and control microbial populations. We emphasize cooperative research among our microbiologists, molecular biologists, aerosol scientists, engineers, and chemists.

We have a state-of-the-art microbiology research laboratory (ML), a biosafety level 2 (BSL 2) laboratory, a tissue culture laboratory, and a microbiological aerosol test facility (MATF).

Microbiology Research Laboratory (ML)

The ML contains standard microbiological equipment. A low-temperature freezer houses an extensive collection of fungi and bacteria. The laboratory also houses 28 static chambers used for material susceptibility testing (primarily ASTM 6329 assessments) in addition to a Carl Zeiss Axio Observer Inverted light microscope, PCR machines for fluorescence real-time and quantitative PCR detection of nucleic acids, a 454 Sequencer (Roche), and a QiaCube (Qiagen) for automated extraction of nucleic acids.

Microbiological Aerosol Test Facility (MATF)

The MATF houses a test apparatus and an 8 x 8 x 10 ft dynamic microbial test chamber capable of exact control conditions of air flow, temperature, and relative humidity. The dynamic chamber is capable of BSL2/3 containment for bioaerosols. The MATF also houses a smaller, bioaerosol test chamber that has been used for HEPA respirator bioaerosol removal efficiency tests and to evaluate bioaerosol sampler collection efficiencies for recovery of airborne viruses and studies on the microbial ecology of cooling coils.

We also have a full range of bioaerosol samplers that includes 1-, 2-, 6-, and 8-stage Andersen impactors, Mattson-Garvin samplers, and glass impingers, plus the HVS3 high-volume surface sampler. We also have the requisite facilities and expertise for the collection of membrane filter samples.

Research and Testing Services

We offer the following research services, laboratory tests, and expertise:

  • Validation of air cleaning devices for bioaerosol inactivation and removal
  • Characterization of microbial populations in soils, water, air, and dust samples
  • Antimicrobials/biocides assessments (gas-phase, aqueous, bound, and ultraviolet C)
  • Evaluation of mold-resistant building materials
  • Static and dynamic chamber studies

Clients

We are privileged to collaborate with and provide microbiology support to our local universities, a variety of commercial clients, and agencies within the Department of Defense, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and several offices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (including the National Risk Management Research Laboratory and the National Exposure Research Laboratory).