Derick G. Brown, Ph.D., P.E.
This research focuses on the implications of bacterial attachment to surfaces. Current projects are examining how bacterial adhesion
affects the cellular metabolic activity, with implications on surface colonization, biofilm formation, and long-term survival under
oligotrophic conditions. Our long-term goal is to design surfaces that passively alter microbial colonization and kinetics.
We are conducting studies examining the linkage between physiochemical phenomena that occur between the bacteria and adhering surface
and cellular bioenergetics.
Microbial and colloidal attachment and transport through porous media
This research focuses on attachment and transport of microorganisms and colloids through both saturated and unsaturated porous
media. Key aspects of this work include (a) how surfactants - the key ingredient in detergents and other household
cleaners - affect microbial transport and (b) the linkage between lab-scale studies and field-scale transport. We have
facilities that allow experimental using 1-D and 2-D systems from the lab scale up to the meso-scale. Meso-scale systems include
a 1x1x9 meter horizontal flow system and a ~1.5x3 meter vertical flow system.
Interactions between microorganisms and surfaces
My interests in this area are related to microbial kinetics, especially applied to remediation of environmental contaminants and treatment
of waste streams, and how various environmental and engineering factors affect these kinetics. I am interested in enhancing
the bioavailability and biodegradation of hydrophobic organic contaminants. My research group is also currently studying
anaerobic digestion. Our interests include improving process design for treatment of highly-variable waste streams
and for maximizing the recovery of energy and valuable intermediate and end-products from the digestion process.