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What is Environmental Microbiology?

Microorganisms are the oldest form of life on Earth and can be found everywhere, from the depths of the ocean to forest floors, and even outer space and beyond. Environmental microbiology is the study of how microbes interact with the environment and each other, including their effects on the landscape, the spread of viruses and bacteria, the distribution of algae, fungi and parasitical organisms and the associated implications for human health and the environment.

Environmental microbiology also researches how microbes can be used to solve global problems. For example, an environmental microbiologist may study the use of microbes to clean up oil spills or other contaminated areas or use organisms that thrive in certain elements to create medicines, topical sunscreens and water purification solutions. Researchers across the U.S. have identified a common marine microbe that can kill red tide, a harmful algae bloom that’s been on the rise in recent years. Scientists here at UF even found a way to synthesize shinorine from a microbe, enabling the production of safer and more environmentally friendly sunscreens.

Our Graduate Certificate in Environmental Microbiology is the first program of its kind and includes courses that provide a comprehensive understanding of microbes as they relate to environments, both around the world and in space. Some of the courses you can take include:

  • MCB 5703 – Astrobiology: Examine biosphere formation, microbe-driven biogeochemistry, microbe adaptation to extreme environments, planetary habitability and microbiology within the International Space Station.
  • MCB 6937 – Bacterial Physiology: Learn the structure and physiology of bacterial cells and explore current research topics including microbes in extreme environments. Current topics in biotechnology will also be discussed, such as improvements in the production of renewable fuels and chemicals and bioremediation.
  • MCB 6656 – Environmental Microbiology: Explore microorganisms in the environment, including occurrence, abundance and distribution. Learn the current research methodologies to decipher microbial processes and activities, marine microbial ecology, microbial interactions with the environment and practices of applied environmental microbiology.

Visit our program page to find out more about the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Microbiology.

Learn More About the Program

Click for details about the Microbiology & Cell Science online graduate programs.