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Garner Research Lab:
Environmental Engineering for Water Treatment, Infrastructure, and Health


Students collect water from a large tank at a wastewater treatment plant.

Welcome! Our research group works at the interface of environmental engineering, applied environmental microbiology, and public health. We work in natural and engineered systems to understand fundamental processes and develop solutions that promote safe and sustainable water resources while prioritizing public health. Some of the areas we work on include:

  • Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment
  • Pathogen Detection and Control
  • Microbial Ecology and Molecular Epidemiology
  • Technical Assistance for Rural Water and Wastewater Utilities

While environmental microbiology has traditionally relied upon the use of culture-based methods for tracking microbial contaminants in the environment and in engineered systems, over 99 percent of environmental bacteria are not culturable under laboratory conditions. Thus, in addition to using traditional culture methods, our research is built upon use of molecular tools targeting the DNA of microorganisms, with an emphasis on next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies and computational bioinformatics techniques to comprehensively profile microbial communities and their functional capacity in water systems.

Two individuals work to open a sampler that was removed from a sewer manhole A student sterilizes an instrument using flame