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I just returned from the Grand Opening of an Anaerobic Digester at the Jordan Dairy Farm in Rutland, MA. The Anaerobic Digester turns cow manure and food waste into methane gas, which is then converted into electricity. The methane is the product of fermentation by anaerobic Archaea known as methanogens. If you’d like to learn more about this project, you may enjoy this video.

The event was spectacular, and the ribbon cutting was attended by Governor Deval Patrick and Congressman Jim McGovern.

The digester project is Jordan Family’s Dairy Farm and Casella Waste Management. The Chief Operating Officer of Casella, Paul Larkin, is an alumnus of Clark University. And I’m happy to report that next week, Hannah Reardon, who just graduated this month with a BA in Biology, will be joining the team as an intern this summer. I hope that we’ll continue to be able to partner with Casella to offer internships to Clark students in the future.

I and two of my graduate students, Songnian Liu and Yingjiao Wang, recently attended the First Annual Nanoworcester Symposium, on February 12, 2011. Many thanks to Reema Zeineldin at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences for organizing this!

Songnian Liu presented a poster, entitled “Can NOx-scrubbing bacteria withstand high levels of mercury?”, about his work with Denitrovibrio acetiphilusDenitrovibrio acetiphilus is one of the microorganisms in the Joint Genome Intitute’s Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea that Clark University has “adopted” for genome interpretation by undergraduate students. For more information about undergraduate genome interpretation, click here. Songian Liu is following up some of this work with functional studies in the laboratory.

I’m excited about NanoWorcester. Reema Zeineldin started this group last summer, and it’s great to have something like this here in Worcester.

This semester, the Wiatrowski lab welcomed a new member, Lina Sanchez.  Lina is a junior, and a biology major.  Here is a picture of me and Lina attempting to perform the Volta experiment in Crystal Pond, during microbiology class in the Fall of 2010.  In this experiment, we capture methane from the sediments below in a funnel and then light it on fire.  It didn’t work this time;  better luck next year!

Lina and Heather attempt the Volta Experiment in Crystal Pond

I am eternally grateful to the Academic Technology department for setting up a lab blog!

Here is a view from our laboratory window.

For our first post, allow me to redirect you to the old Lab News Section that was previously on the Wiatrowski Lab website.
You can find them here:

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