About Dr. Lee
Ensuring Safe Drinking Water in Lake Erie: Quantifying Extreme Weather Impacts on Cyanobacteria and Disinfection Byproducts. Funded by US EPA STAR. (PI: Lee, co-PI: Liang, Shum) 2012-2015
We study the link between historic and current extreme weather events and water quality indicators using satellite and field work data, temperature, turbidity, precipitation, water level, and ice/snow/flood extents, (2) improved understanding of the links between extreme weather events and the source and finished water quality including cyanobacteria densities, cyanotoxins, DBPs, and nutrient concentrations, and (3) the modeling and prediction of adverse impacts to source and finished water to understand the future impact of climate-change induced extreme weather events on water safety in Lake Erie.
Rapid detection of microcystin and understanding factors affecting Cyanotoxin production at inland Ohio Beaches. Funded by Ohio Water Development Authority. (PI: Lee) 2012-2014
The specific aims of this project are to develop a rapid system for predicting microcystin levels by pigment and toxin-producing gene measurements. The field data with water quality parameters will provide understanding the microbial ecology of cyanotoxin production.
- Innovative Rapid Identification of Lake Erie Fecal Sources. Funded by US EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. (PI: Lee, co-PI: Lichtkoppler, Zondag) 2010-2012
Lake Erie beaches are among the Nation’s most impaired. Despite investments exceeding two billion dollars in regional wastewater infrastructure, fecal contamination remains a problem. Additionally, improvement efforts at Lake Erie beaches may be getting thwarted by fecal contributions by waterfowl. With a need for data-driven remediation plans to maximize source reductions at Ohio beaches, two rapid molecular tools are being developed and employed to quantify human- and waterfowl-specific fecal indicators. Routine sanitary and water quality surveys performed in tandem with molecular methods will elucidate human versus waterfowl impacts on water safety at three Lake Erie beaches.
Plant Stress and Its Impact on Internalization of Bacteria and Viruses in Fresh Produce. Funded by OSU Food Innovation Center Research Award. (PI: Lee, co-Investigator: Li, Kleinhenz, Gardner) 2010-2011
Internalization of microbial pathogens within fresh produce has become a critical issue because it would preclude effective removal by washing and sanitizers. We are studying the impact of plant stress (due to extreme weather events and infection of plant pathogens) on the internalization of Salmonella and hepatits A virus in lettuce and green onion.
Does enterococci qPCR predict pathogen levels? Funded by Lake Erie Protection Fund. (PI: Lee) 2011-2012
We are studying if the rapidly measured fecal bacteria with qPCR can predict the presence of human pathogens in Lake Erie beaches. The pathogens that are investigating are Arcobacter, human enterovirus and human adenovirus.
Multiple Genetic Marker Approach for Understanding the Impact of Land Use and Climate Change on Microbial Contamination in Water. Funded by OARDC SEED grant. (PI: Lee, co-investigators: W. Dick and R. Moore)
The goal of this project is to identify microbial contaminants when the land use is changed along the Upper Sugar Creek watershed, one of the most impaired watershed in Ohio, and to conduct preliminary studies of how changes in storm intensity impact enteric pathogen transport and their fate.
Return to top of list
Recently Completed Projects
New Fecal & Pathogen Indicators and Development of Rapid Detection Method for Protecting Health from Recreational Waterborne Illnesses. Funded by OSU PHPID Pilot Research Grant. (PI: Lee, co-PI: Saif, Salyer, Gulcin) 2009-2011
The two most important issues in current beach water quality monitoring are to identify better fecal indicators and to develop rapid methods. My lab has been investigating Bacteroides as a new fecal and host-specific indicator in beaches and finding its relationship with the traditional fecal indicator, E. coli, and other water quality parameters. This project studies the importance of Bacteroides as a new fecal indicator and norovirus as a water pathogen and explore an innovative approach to understand the integrative health risks (bacteria, virus, cyanobacteria) using a risk-based analysis.
Rapid Detection of viable B. fragilis in Lake Erie beaches. Funded by Lake Erie Protection Fund (PI: Lee) 2010
This project investigates the significance of Bacteroides as a new human-specific fecal indicator in Lake Erie, compare its relationship with the current fecal indicator, E. coli, and develop rapid methods (IMS/ATP and qPCR). The outcomes of this study will provide practical information to support the new criteria for recreational microbial water quality that will be revised by US EPA by 2012. The rapid methods will directly support ‘same-day beach advisory systems’ that nationwide public health agencies pursue.
Protecting Public Health at Ohio Inland Beaches: Water Quality Indicators for Recreational Microbial Exposure. Funded by Ohio Water Development Authority (PI: Buckley, co-PI: Lee) 2009-2011
This project examines the predictive association between chemical and physical water quality indicators relative to microbial load at Ohio inland beaches and reported symptoms among beach goers.
Health risks from indoor environment-P. aeruginosa transmission from water and aerosol. Funded by OSU CCTS PHPID Joint Pilot Research Grant (PI: Lee, co-PI: Wozniak, Buckley) 2009-2011
We are developing a rapid and sensitive method to concentrate and detect P. aerguginosa that are transmitted through various transmission modes such as nosocomial route, waterborne- and airborne transmission in indoor environment. The findings from this project can be applied to other pathogens having similar transmission modes such as Legionella pneumophila.
Pressure-Ohmic Thermal Sterilization (POTS). Funded by Food Innovation Center Research Award Competition (PI: Balasubramaniam, co-investigator: Sastry, Lee) 2010-2011
We investigated the combined effects of pressure, electric field and heat on inactivation of pressure-thermal resistant Bacillus amyloliquefaciens and Bacillus stearothermophilus spores in food (puree and juice).
Ozone as a clean technology for environment and food industry: its impact on water consumption and wastewater quality. Funded by Ohio Water Development Authority (PI: Lee, co-PI: Yousef, Bohrerova) 2009-2010
Fresh produce is one of the major sources for foodborne illness outbreaks. The contamination by pathogens caused by the application of improperly treated manure, flood irrigation with contaminated water or surface runoff. Fresh production practices commonly include a rinse step using ~200 ppm of chlorine. This project investigates the efficiency of ozone as a clean technology to improve food industry wastewater quality, reduce water consumption by improving the reusability of the processing water, minimize impact on environment while inactivating foodborne pathogens effectively.
Near Real-time detection of bacterial spores in food. Funded by CAPPS (PI: Lee) 2009-2010
Presence of spores in food, including food ingredients, increases the potential for food-borne disease and food spoilage. Spores are more resistant to most types of disinfection. As non-spore forming background microorganisms are efficiently removed by food processing procedure, the shelf life of food products is more significantly determined by the presence of spores. This is a project to develop rapid detection system (~ 30 min) for targeting bacterial spores that cause food spoilage and poisoning. We are developing a streamlined procedure that rapidly assesses viable spores in water, beverage packaging and food power and the identification of the spore origins.
Microbial Contamination From Failed Septic Tank Systems and Its Impact On Water Safety. Funded by Dean’s Undergraduate Research Fund (Burrowes’ undergraduate research) 2009-2010
Ohio is one of the states with the most household sewage treatment systems (HSTS) that discharge human waste into streams and watersheds. We are studying the impact of these failed HSTS on receiving water body, Olentangy River, and health risks by determining chemical and microbial water quality and genetic markers.
Return to top of list