I am a rising senior at Central Bucks High School West in Pennsylvania and am very interested in bioremediation, which is the use of naturally occurring microorganisms to break down environmental pollutants. This interest compelled me to conduct a project on the effects of a bacterium known as Bacillus cereus on 3- Nitrobenzanthrone, a carcinogen found in diesel exhaust. I wanted to investigate whether the introduction of this naturally occurring microbe could lessen the harmful effects of this potent mutagen. After high school, I plan to continue my research as well as investigate the effects of natural microbes on oil pollution.
What is your summer research project?
In contemporary society, automobiles spewing out diesel exhaust are commonplace. However, this form of pollution often releases a potent carcinogen known as 3-NBA, which has proven to have harmful, carcinogenic effects on numerous mammals. This summer, I focused on the bioremediation of 3- NBA through the use of Bacillus cereus, a bacteria known to break down basic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
What are the implications of your research?
If B. cereus is proven to be able to break down 3-NBA or reduce the carcinogenic effects of the substance, bioremediation could prove to be a viable alternative to break down this harmful mutagen that pollutes the soil, air, and common water sources. Currently, there remains little to no research on breaking down nitro-PAHs through the use of bacteria or other methods.
What new skills have you gained through this experience?
Through this experience, I have learned everything from researching a topic thoroughly to conducting cutting-edge research in a lab. In addition to being shown how lab work can be translated into a career, investigating this bacteria and carcinogen has opened my eyes to how much more there is to learn and has truly inspired me to pursue a future in research.