Daniel Steurer, 2014, Chemical and Biological Engineering

This summer I spent time working in the lab of Professor François Morel, looking at some intricacies of the cyanobacteria Trichodesmium sp. SMS 101. Specifically, I made strides to analyze and critique current methods of growing the organism, while also examining the current and potential future effects of ocean acidification on an organism which accounts for nearly 50% of fixed nitrogen in the world’s oceans. I spent time culturing the bacteria in an artificial medium, YBC II, varying some of the medium’s properties. I also worked with a graduate student, Dalin Shi, who helped me grow the bacteria in iron-limited ­conditions – ­conditions that could arise from ocean acidification – to attempt to learn how the ­bacteria’s carbon and nitrogen fixating abilities would be affected. Throughout the ­summer, I have gained some very important skills in the lab including culturing of ­bacteria, using gas chromatography, and using general sterile techniques. I also worked with ­radioactive carbon in tracking the fixation of its molecules. My summer experience, and the skills I acquired, are pushing me towards environmentally based academic interests. Going forward, I hope to move towards the renewable energy field, to help prevent global warming-based issues like ocean acidification.