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Geomicrobiologist receives NSF Career Award

Aug. 23, 2012 — University of Delaware geomicrobiologist Clara Chan studies the role of rust-producing bacteria in water flowing both above and below ground, and she recently received a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to expand her research.

Patches of orange slime with an oily sheen are not uncommon to see along stream banks, often mistaken for pollution or decomposing leaves. In fact, the substance is made by metal-eating bacteria that create oxidized iron, or rust, naturally in the environment.

“Microbial iron cycling is important to understanding the chemistry of our waters,” said Chan, assistant professor of geological sciences in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE).