Beckman Fellow 2003-04

Eberhard F. Morgenroth

Civil & Environmental Engineering


Professor Morgenroth’s research focuses on the influence of dynamic reactor operation on the performance of biological-treatment processes. His specific areas of interest include detachment processes in biofilm reactors, the hydrolysis of particulate organic matter in biofilms, the influence of growth conditions and reactor operation on mass transport in biofilms, long-term starvation of bacteria, and dynamic responses of bacteria to rapid changes of environmental conditions.

During his Center appointment Professor Morgenroth will evaluate the influence of detachment on the coexistence of microorganisms in biofilms. He will grow under controlled hydrodynamic conditions a model system that combines two well-studied organisms, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. He will develop new experimental techniques based on focused-beam-reflectance measurement to allow online and in-situ monitoring of detachment dynamics in the reactor. The use of computer simulations will help to further study the influence of different detachment mechanisms. Also as part of his Center appointment he plans to develop a three-dimensional mathematical model that describes fluid flow and development of the heterogeneous biofilm morphology.

The goal of both laboratory and computer experiments will be to evaluate fundamental mechanisms of coexistence in biofilms and how coexistence can be influenced by modifying reactor operation, allowing for predictions of biological-treatment processes under transient conditions. His results will have application in the treatment of municipal and industrial wastewater, animal wastes, and drinking water.