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University of Waterloo Bioenergetics Workshop

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The University of Waterloo Microbial Bioenergetics Workshop was held on July 23rd and 24th at the CIGI campus in Waterloo. The workshop was funded through a Water Institute Seed Grant to ERG Research Scientist, Christina Smeaton

Microbial bioenergetics applies thermodynamic principles to quantitatively describe energy transformations and utilization to predict reaction rates and microbial growth.While bioenergetics is a well-established discipline in industrial environmental biotechnology (e.g., waste water treatment), it is rarely applied to model microbially mediated processes in natural and human-modified (e.g., mines, oil sands) ecosystems. However, bioenergetics holds much promise for incorporation into predictive tools such as environmental reactive transport models (RTMs). Download the infographic on "What is Microbial Bioenergetics?" (PDF) for more information. 

The goal of the workshop was to bring together researchers who develop microbial bioenergetics-based theory with potential end-users to identify knowledge gaps, user needs and to potentially begin/grow collaborations. The workshop was built on the premise that applying bioenergetics should advance our ability to predict the response of microbial reaction networks to dynamic changes in physical (e.g., temperature) and geochemical (e.g., redox state, pH, substrate availability) conditions in environmental systems. 

Attendees of the workshop included scientists from across 6 departments and 3 faculties from the University of Waterloo, as well as researchers from 3 other Canadian universities, 4 international institutions, and 2 industrial partners. Over the two days, the workshop successfully facilitated knowledge exchange and collaboration between academic researchers across disciplines and industries.

Workshop attendees outside

The first day of the workshop featured presentations on the developments and challenges in microbial bioenergetics theory, reactive transport modeling, microbial ecology, bioremediation, and emerging methods. 

Download the workshop program (PDF) for more information about the presentations.

The second day of the workshop featured interactive world café discussions centered around important research questions raised during the first day of discussions. The activity effectively identified knowledge gaps, established end-user needs, and grant opportunities moving forward. Waterloo MP and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Bardish Chagger, stopped by the workshop during the activity, showing interest in the Water Institute and the collaborative discussions and research of the participants.

Philippe and Bardish

After the workshop was complete, attendees were invited to an excellent performance of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus in Stratford.

Workshop attendees in Stratford

Thank you to Christina Smeaton for organizing the event!

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