Will A. Overholt  

Ph.D. Student

B.S. Biology. 2010. Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

Research Interests: As a PhD student in Dr. Joel Kostka's lab, I am interested in how the Deepwater Horizon oil spill affected environmental microorganisms, and the possible mechanisms by which the microbial community aided in removing contaminating oil.

Specifically, I am interested in how indigenous microbial communities initially responded to the oiling event, and how this response evolved overtime. I hope to get at the mechanisms by which the oil was chemically transformed by microbial metabolisms, and what limits or controls these mechanisms. Overall, I hope to aide in developing new approaches to respond to oil spills and increase our predictive capabilities on the effects of oil spills in the environment.

Email: waoverholt@gatech.edu
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Boryoung Shin  

Ph.D. Student

B.S. Environmental Marine Sciences. 2012. Hanyang University, Ansan, South Korea

Research Interests: My research is focused on anaerobic hydrocarbon biodegradation. After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill incident in the Gulf of Mexico, it became important to know the fate of oil. Oil can be degraded by microbes either by aerobic or anaerobic respiration. Once deposited oil reaches anaerobic zone in the sediment, it has to be degraded without aerobic respiration. I am interested in the microbial community change involved with hydrocarbon oxidation under nitrate-, ferric iron-, and sulfate-reducing conditions. I also have been trying to isolate anaerobic hydrocarbon degraders to understand their degradation rates and biochemical pathways.

Xiaoxu Sun  

Ph.D. Student

M.S. Environmental Engineering. 2011. Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Research Interests: The deepwater horizon oil spill accident represents the largest accidental marine oil spill in human history. Many efforts have been devoted to understanding the impacts of this catastrophe. My research is focusing on the responses of the microorganisms to the elevated hydrocarbon concentration.

Specifically, I proposed to reveal the correlations between various oceanographic controls (i.e. pressure, temperature, and nutrient level) to microbial hydrocarbon degradation potentials. To accomplish this goal, various techniques, including geochemistry, microbiology, and bioinformatics, are employed.

As oil exploration is heading to pristine areas, like the deepsea and the arctic, potential oil spills will devastate the environment. My research will help to plan effective response strategies for future oil spills.