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SWETTE CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL BIOTECHNOLOGY——Bruce Rittmann, Director Professor, SWETTE CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL BIOTECHNOLOGY
Source:original    Writer:admin    Released on:2013-12-09    

 

Bruce Rittmann,
Director Professor, SWETTE CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

 


Abstract:

Can you explain what environmental biotechnology is and how the Center’s activities feed into its development?

 

At the Center, we understand and manage microbial communities so that they provide services. Most of these services relate to environmental sustainability, such as improving water quality – generally by removing pollutants from water – making it more useful for human use or for return to the environment for natural ecosystem uses. We are also very active in harnessing microorganisms to generate renewable resources – particularly forms of energy that are useful to society. These two directions are at the core of the Center’s activities. We also aim to directly understand the role of microorganisms in human health, because the human body is inhabited by a large number of microorganisms, particularly in the intestines where they have a role in mediating our health. This is our newest area of research; it is a very natural progression from our work on environmental sustainability as we find the same kinds of organisms that are used in processes to generate renewable energy. Addressing this topic makes sense as, through digestive system activity, augmented by the microorganisms in our intestines, humans basically convert energy in food into things that can be taken up by the bloodstream.

 



What does your role as Director of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology at Arizona State University entail?

 

I am the Director and Founder of the Center, which has been running for nine years. At that time, Arizona State University had just created a new research facility called the Biodesign Institute, and I was invited to start a centre there – the Center for Environmental Biotechnology. The mission of the Biodesign Institute is to understand and use biology to help address some of society’s biggest challenges. We have fabulous facilities, but, beyond this, the Center adopts a culture that focuses on a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary approach, one in which we conduct research in teams that are overtly trying to solve serious practical problems.
Within the Biodesign Institute, all research is directed in some way towards human health, environmental sustainability or security, ie. security against terrorism. Our Center does not address security, but, as expected, we investigate environmental sustainability as well as multiple
aspects relating to human health. I was asked to start the Center to create this very interdisciplinary, collaborative, use-inspired organisation to conduct environmental biotechnology research. Today, the Center has 60-70 staff, including four professors, graduate students, postdocs, research scientists, visiting scholars, undergraduates and high school students. Brian Swette – an alumnus of Arizona State University – is very committed to supporting environmental sustainability efforts at the University. He gave a large gift to the University and it found its way to help support our Center.


 

 

 

 

 

More Information please clicks:

 

t.cn/RvWL9Y2

 

 

 

 

(Sources from: Research Media, < PUJIANG INNOVATION FORUM,Development and the Role of Enterprises >)