Dr. Susan Baldwin’s research is focused on using natural biological and geochemical processes to solve environmental challenges caused by anthropogenic activities. Her research group has worked with municipalities, agriculture, forestry, mining and pulp and paper industries to find solutions for mitigating their impact on the receiving ecosystem. They target treatment processes that are inspired by nature and that leverage the wide spectrum of metabolic capabilities of native microorganisms as well as geochemical processes. Through the use of metagenomics they are discovering new microorganisms with the metabolic potential for transferring potentially toxic compounds to less harmful forms. They are learning how disturbance from mining is transforming the below ground microbial communities. The technologies that they are developing are designed to provide conditions that promote the activity of beneficial biogeochemical processes to achieve environmental sustainability.
Future Research Directions:
- Design of novel biochemical reactors for metal recovery and sustainable source control at mine sites
- Harnessing the power of mineral-microbiome metagenomics for next generation mining, mineral processing and environmental management
- Bioreactor automation and process control incorporating metagenomics with machine learning
- Reuse of residues through industrial ecology and the paradigm of the circular economy