Abeer Sohrab

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Study of surrogate pathogens in wastewater to ensure water sustainability

Abeer Sohrab, Ramesh Goel

I am a graduate student in Department of civil and environmental engineering, University of Utah. I am currently a PhD candidate working under Dr. Ramesh Goel. My research is focused around surrogate pathogens and anti microbial resistance in bacteria, found in wastewater. I came to Utah after completing my masters in civil and environmental engineering from India. It is my first year in the PhD program at the university and I hope to contribute in the field of environmental sciences with honesty, integrity and excellence.
Wastewater today is an active source of water, owing to the increased demand for water and for creating sustainable water resources. Studying the entire range of pathogens in wastewater samples is a tedious, costly process and traditional Fecal indicator bacteria have certain limitations, therefore, the need for a novel indicator arises. Bacteriophages can potentially be used as surrogate indicators for overall fecal contamination. The first step of the study is to compare protocols and develop SOPs to detect bacteriophages (particularly male-specific and somatic coliphages). Isolation and enumeration of coliphages from wastewater will be done using the appropriate method and they will further be identified and studied using DNA sequencing. Detecting and studying a wide range of pathogens can contribute to the development of novel methods for identifying and neutralizing them from wastewater, thereby making the water safer and decreasing the pressure on existing water sources; thus, contributing to global sustainability.