Energy and the environment: electrochemistry of electron transport pathways in anode-respiring bacteria and energy technology and climate change in science textbooks

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The finite supply of current energy production materials has created opportunities for the investigation of alternative energy sources in many fields. One example is the use of microorganisms in

The finite supply of current energy production materials has created opportunities for the investigation of alternative energy sources in many fields. One example is the use of microorganisms in bioenergy applications, such as microbial fuel cells. Present in many types of environments, microorganisms with the ability to respire solid electron acceptors have become of increasing relevance to alternative energy and wastewater treatment research. In this dissertation, several aspects of anode respiration are investigated, with the goal of increasing the limited understanding of the mechanisms of electron transport through the use of advanced electrochemical methods. Biofilms of Geobacter sulfurreducens, the model anode respiring organism, as well as its alkaliphilic relative, Geoalkalibacter ferrihydriticus, were investigated using chronoamperometry, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, and cyclic voltammetry.

In G. sulfurreducens, two distinct pathways of electron transport were observed through the application of advanced electrochemical techniques on anode biofilms in microbial electrochemical cells. These pathways were found to be preferentially expressed, based on the poised anode potential (redox potential) of the electrode. In Glk. ferrihydriticus, four pathways for electron transport were found, showing an even greater diversity in electron transport pathway utilization as compared to G. sulfurreducens. These observations provide insights into the diversity of electron transport pathways present in anode-respiring bacteria and introduce the necessity of further characterization for pathway identification.

Essential to science today, communication of pressing scientific issues to the lay audience may present certain difficulties. This can be seen especially with the topics that are considered socio-scientific issues, those considered controversial in society but not for scientists. This dissertation explores the presentation of alternative and renewable energy technologies and climate change in undergraduate education. In introductory-level Biology, Chemistry, and Physics textbooks, the content and terminology presented were analyzed for individual textbooks and used to evaluate discipline-based trends. Additional extensions were made between teaching climate change with the active learning technique of citizen science using past research gains from studies of evolution. These observations reveal patterns in textbook content for energy technologies and climate change, as well as exploring new aspects of teaching techniques.