OHSU

EBS student, Christina Brow, wins ARCS Scholarship

11/01/08

Portland, Ore.—Christina Brow received one of seven ARCS Foundation Scholarships awarded to OHSU graduate students in 2008. Chris entered the Ph.D. program in Environmental Science and Engineering, offered by OHSU's Division of Environmental and Biomolecular Systems, in October 2007. Her research is the general area of environmental genomics, which involves applying molecular biological methods to characterize microbial community structure, microbial community response to stressors, etc.

Recent advances in microbial ecology have provided scientists and engineers with many exciting new tools. Molecular methods such as proteomics, metagenomics, gene expression microarrays, and PCR-based detection and fingerprinting of microbial communities have tremendous potential to improve the design, monitoring, and performance of subsurface remediation activities. However, molecular biological tool (MBT) use within the environmental cleanup community has been limited, largely due to the lack of established sample collection, and analysis protocols.

Brow's research involves the application of molecular biology to bioremediation, through the development of deployable sampling protocols appropriate for use with MBTs. For example, traditional subsurface sampling involves the extraction of sediment cores to the surface. Unfortunately, the redistribution of pore water upon core extraction obscures interfaces that may be relevant to remediation. Pore water redistribution can be eliminated by freezing the core in-situ prior to extraction to the surface, but the effects of whole-core freezing on biomolecules such as DNA, RNA, and protein have either yet to be examined, or have been examined only in preliminary ways.

The ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) Foundation, Inc. is a national volunteer women's organization dedicated to helping the best and brightest U. S. graduate and undergraduate students by providing scholarships in natural sciences, medicine and engineering.