Beth Ahner is a Professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering and is currently serving as a Senior Associate Dean in CALS. Her professional objectives have been to explore basic science in pursuit of better engineering solutions. In particular, she seeks to understand how organisms adapt to trace metal stress in the environment and in turn, how they influence the form of metals in the environment. Discoveries in this area lead to better strategies to remediate metal contamination in the environment and to a better understanding of natural ecosystems.
Professor Ahner’s research in environmental biotechnology explores how plants solubilize, take up, detoxify, and sequester metals. Her lab group focuses on questions involving intracellular detoxification mechanisms and how biological processes affect the biogeochemical cycling of metals in both the natural environment and in engineered systems. One application of this research is phytoremediation, the use of plants to remove metals from contaminated soils.
Professor Ahner teaches students to recognize the complexity of environmental problems and to implement efficient and environmentally sound solutions to them. At the undergraduate level, she focuses on introductory modeling, and at the graduate level, she focuses on current research in bioremediation. Her recent courses include BEE 2510 Engineering for a Sustainable Society.
- Schmidt, J. A., McGrath, J. M., Hanson, M. R., Long, S. P., & Ahner, B. (2019). Field-grown tobacco plants maintain robust growth while accumulating large quantities of a bacterial cellulase in chloroplasts. Nature Plants. 5:715–721.
- Mansfeldt, C. B., Richter, L. V., Cochlan, W. P., Ahner, B., & Richardson, R. E. (2016). Use of De Novo Transcriptome Libraries to Characterize a Novel Oleaginous Marine Chlorella Species during the Accumulation of Triacylglycerols. PLOS One. 11.
- Walsh, M. J., Goodnow, S. D., Vezeau, G. E., Richter, L. V., & Ahner, B. (2015). Cysteine Enhances Bioavailability of Copper to Marine Phytoplankton. Environmental Science & Technology. 49:12145–12152.
- Kim, B. J., Richter, L. V., Hatter, N., Tung, C. K., Ahner, B., & Wu, M. (2015). An array microhabitat system for high throughput studies of microalgal growth under controlled nutrient gradients. Lab on a Chip. 15:3687-3694.
- Yang, H., Gray, B. N., Ahner, B., & Hanson, M. R. (2013). Bacteriophage 5' untranslated regions for control of plastid transgene expression. Planta. 237:517-27.
- Gupton-Campolongo, T., Damasceno, L. M., Hay, A., & Ahner, B. (2013). Characterization of a High Affinity Phytochelatin Synthase From The Cd-Utilizing Marine Diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana. Journal of Phycology. 49:32-40.
- Hanson, M. R., Gray, B. N., & Ahner, B. (2013). Chloroplast transformation for engineering of photosynthesis. JXB: Journal of Experimental Botany. 64:731-742.
- Kim, H., Walsh, M. J., Yang, H., & Ahner, B. (2011). Nutrient availability alters levels of non-translationally synthesized nitrogen-rich dipeptides in Emiliania huxleyi. Aquatic Biology. 12:215-224.
- Saathoff, A. J., Ahner, B., Spanswick, R. M., & Walker, L. P. (2011). Detection of Phytochelatin in the Xylem Sap of Brassica napus. Environmental Engineering Science. 23:103-111.
- Vadas, T. M., & Ahner, B. (2009). Extraction of lead and cadmium from soils by cysteine and glutathione. JEQ: Journal of Environmental Quality. 38:2245-2252.