Geoffrey B. Smith, PhD, Professor of NMSU Biology:

 

 

Research Areas. Geoffrey B. Smith, PhD, Professor of NMSU Biology

Eight PhD and fourteen MS students have obtained their graduate degrees under Smith’s direction.


Environmental Detection of Microbial Pathogens. The overarching goal of this research area is to understand how long microbial pathogens are harbored in environmental reservoirs in between disease outbreaks, and to develop new techniques to detect environmental bioagents. We have developed a new method to simultaneously concentrate bacterial, viral and protozoan pathogens from surface waters (Morales et al. 2003), and have used this to document prevalent pathogen occurrence in the U.S. / Mexico Rio Grande watershed (Morales et al. 2006). Another biodetection approach is our work with Dr. Gary Eiceman, NMSU Chemistry, in which we are developing a near real-time microbial detection method based on differential mobility spectrometry and microbial pyrolysis (Prasad et al. 2007; Schmidt et al. 2006; Eiceman et al. 2005). In a separate project, we are currently doing microbial source tracking work in northern New Mexican streams.

Applications of Microbial Catalysis. Current biocatalysis work is centered on converting waste to resource in the form of methane, hydrogen and bioelectricity. This is a collaborative effort with NMSU’s Drs. Khandan and Deng, and we have developed a novel biofuel process (Biohydrogenesis™) to produce hydrogen gas from solid wastes. In collaboration with Los Alamos National Lab scientist Dr. Don Reed, uranium and plutonium biocatalysis has been documented with different species of metal-reducing bacteria Reed et al. 2007). Other work involves the use of a fishbone-based material (Apatite II®) in stimulating the simultaneous bioremediation of the DoD contaminants lead, TNT and perchlorate (Martinez et al. 2005).


Research Interests:
Low-level Radiation Effects in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Permian-age Salado Formation. We are studying the effects of shielding cells from normal levels of radiation by growing them 650 meters underground at the WIPP site in a pre-World War II 6-in thick steel chamber.  The effort is to test the Linear No-threshold Theory from the “other side of background”, in a radiation-shielded environment that is well below natural levels of radiation (Smith et al. 2010).  Additionally, the Permian-age halite is being examined for biochemical evidence of ancient life.
Environmental Detection of Microbial Pathogens.  One goal of this research area is to understand how microbial pathogens are harbored in environmental reservoirs in between disease outbreaks, and to develop better techniques to detect environmental bioagents. We have developed a method to simultaneously concentrate bacterial, viral and protozoan pathogens from surface waters (Morales et al. 2003), and have used this to document prevalent pathogen occurrence in the U.S. / Mexico Rio Grande watershed (Morales et al. 2006).  We are developing carbon nanotube-based sensor for detection of bio and chem agents (Cortes et al. 2010; Venkata et al. 2009), and currently we are applying the nanotubes towards rad detection. We are also developing a near real-time microbial detection method based on differential mobility spectrometry and microbial pyrolysis (Prasad et al. 2008).  In separate projects, I am doing microbial source tracking work in regional watersheds, and developing biological sources of energy such as biohydrogen and bioelectricity (Gadhamshetty et al. 2009).
Recent Publications: