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Research group, spring 2019

Principal Investigator

Dr. Karen C. Dannemiller

I am an Assistant Professor at Ohio State University with a joint appointment in Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering and Environmental Health Sciences. I also have a courtesy appointment in Microbiology and am a core faculty member in the Sustainability Institute. My interdisciplinary research integrates engineering with microbiology and addresses emerging health challenges and environmental concerns using -omics approaches. Within the indoor environment, we are simultaneously exposed to thousands of chemicals and microorganisms which compose our indoor exposome, and these exposures are different from those of our ancestors. Broadly, the goal of my work is to understand these exposures, their sources, and their impact on human health. My unique background combines training in both engineering and public health to tackle difficult questions, particularly with regards to exposures in the built environment, where we spend 90% of our time.

Prior to my current position, I graduated with honors in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering from Brown University and earned my M.S., M.Phil, and Ph.D. at Yale University in Chemical and Environmental Engineering. During this time, I completed an internship at the California Department of Public Health in the Indoor Air Quality Program. I was also a Microbiology of the Built Environment Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University. My work improved our understanding of human exposures linked to childhood asthma development and severity. My research also elucidated resident microbial populations and fundamental transport processes occurring in homes. My current research is on microbial activity in house dust, indoor exposures, and asthma. 

In addition to a fundamental background in engineering and quantitative sciences, my skill set in microbiology includes phylogenetics, metagenomics, proteomics, and transcriptomics and allows for exploration of microbial communities and biological processes. I have extensive experience with next-generation DNA sequencing of fungi and bacteria and using this data I have also addressed relevant challenges bioinformatics, including software development, and in statistics, to demonstrate complex associations with human health outcomes.

I teach classes in Risk Assessment, Probability and Statistics for Engineers, and another class titled Engineering Design for Environmental Health.

I was awarded the Denman Distinguished Research Mentor Award in 2017 and the IMR Early Career Innovator of the Year in 2019.

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Current Lab Members

Ashleigh Bope

I am a graduate student pursuing a PhD Degree in the Environmental Science Graduate Program. Previously, I studied at Capital University, where I graduated with honors in Environmental Science and Biology. My research experience has focused on small mammal ecology, exploring the associations between mouse populations and habitat characteristics.


My current work includes studying associations between asthma severity and microbial exposures in adult female bedrooms. Using qPCR and DNA sequencing, the fungal, bacterial and viral communities in bedroom dust will be quantified and identified. Statistical analysis will reveal any associations between exposure and sleep disruption. I am also helping to characterize the differences between dPCR and qPCR and the efficiencies associated with indoor dust collection and analysis methods.

 

Sam Cochran

I am a graduate of The Ohio State University with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Global Public Health. I am currently getting my masters in Public Health. I work under Dr. Karen Dannemiller, characterizing the accuracy and precision of digital and quantitative PCR utilities, as well as the efficiency in obtaining quantifiable levels of DNA from environmental samples.

 

 

Allie Donahue

I am an undergraduate student pursuing a bachelors in environmental engineering at The Ohio State University. I currently work under Dr. Karen Dannemiller in the Indoor Environmental Quality lab isolating V. victoriae from dust in order to study how microbial exposure relates to childhood asthma. I also will be determining what microbes are present in dust samples from beta test homes before and after use of an air cleaning system.

 

Sarah Haines

 I am a graduate student pursuing a PhD in Environmental Science. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering in 2017 and with a Master of Science in Environmental Science in 2019 from The Ohio State University. As an undergraduate, I worked with Dr. Karen Dannemiller looking into microbial growth in carpet dust at varying relative humidity conditions.

As a graduate student I continued this research, increasing the samples size and collecting carpet and dust samples from 20 different homes across Ohio. During the summer of 2019, I was a Visiting Scholar at the University of California Berkeley working on a project relating microbial growth and chemical emissions from building materials in the indoor environment. This research will aid in the completion of my dissertation.

 

Nicholas Nastasi

I received my Associates of Science as an Honors Scholar Graduate from Columbus State Community College in 2016. I am currently an undergraduate student pursuing my B.S. in Environmental Engineering at The Ohio State University. I have previous research experience with Dr. Paula Mouser performing geochemical analysis of hydraulic fracturing fluids with special emphasis on microbial activity. I am excited to begin working with Dr. Karen Dannemiller to expand upon Lingyi Xu’s work developing microscopy techniques to observe fungal growth on carpet fibers embedded with dust particles. These microscopy observations will supplement Sarah Haines’s research to provide a better understanding of indoor microbial growth at varying humidity and its associated health risks.

 

Nicole Renninger

I graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.S. in Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering with Honors in Research Distinction in Environmental Engineering. I am currently pursuing a Masters in Environmental Engineering. I work under Dr. Karen Dannemiller optimizing a procedure to extract high quality RNA from house dust, as well as studying the effects of indoor microbial exposure on health.

 

 

Katelyn Stuart                                                                                        

I am a second-year undergraduate student at Ohio State. I am pursuing a degree in Environmental Public Health with a minor in Biology, and I am on a pre-med track. I look forward to developing my research skills with Dr. Dannemiller.                                         

 

 

Emily Weigand

I am currently a sophomore pursuing my B.S. in Chemical Engineering. My research focuses on identifying how different environmental factors, such as humidity, affect indoor fungal species that are known to have ill effects on human health. I have also been working towards identifying potential strains of these fungal species that exist indoors, in order to better characterize indoor fungal communities. I am excited to see how my research develops as I continue to work with Dr. Dannemiller in the upcoming years.


Alumni

 

Celine Alkhayri

A graduate of The Ohio State University with a B.S. in Environmental Engineering. Conducted research to compare measurement of Aureobasidium pullulans using next-generation DNA sequencing methods with the “goal standard” species-specific qPCR.

 

Victor Amesoeder

A graduate of The Ohio State University. Researched fungal growth on  materials.

 

 

 

Iona Campbell

A graduate of the The Ohio State University, with a B.S. in Environmental Engineering. conducted research regarding fungal growth on household materials.

 

 

Quentin Platt

A graduate of The Ohio State University with a B.S. in Environmental Engineering. Researched the indoor air quality of LEED-certified buildings compared to non LEED buildings. 

 

 

Paige Frey

A graduate of The Ohio State University with a Bachelors in Environmental Engineering.  Aided in creating a smartphone app that will detect the levels formaldehyde in homes and other places with human occupancy. 

 

 

 

David Kormos

A graduate of The Ohio State University, with a B.S in Environmental Engineering. Conducted research which characterized the accuracy and precision of digital and quantitative PCR utilities.

 

 

Ningling Zhu

Lingyi Xu

I graduated with a B.S in Environmental Engineering at The Ohio State University in 2018. I worked under Dr. Karen Dannemiller as an undergraduate research assistant, utilizing microscopy to view bacterial and fungal growth in carpet dust. This work supported Sarah Haines’s ongoing research on microbial growth in carpet dust at varying relative humidity conditions. I utilized a microscope to observe fungal growth in the carpet embedded with dust. 

 

Siyang Zhang (associated member)

Weiyi Qu

Caleb Solomon-McRoy