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Institute for Energy and the Environment

Joseph M. Suflita, Director

Dedicated to providing the basic scientific foundation upon which solutions for applied environmental problems can be established, Institute for Energy and the Environment scientists work closely with graduate students to investigate biotechnological solutions to contamination problems faced by the oil and gas industry. The institute is directed by Dr. Joseph M. Suflita, who is a noted microbiologist and holds the MAPCO Professorship of Environmental Quality. He is also a nationally-recognized expert on bioremediation.

Microbiologist Joseph M. Suflita's major research interest concerns the metabolic fate of compounds that pollute the environment, particularly energy-related contaminants and their fate under anaerobic conditions. A nationally-recognized expert in bioremediation, Dr. Suflita endeavors to establish the degradative pathways associated with contaminant compounds, the rates at which they are biotransformed, the ecological boundaries of the metabolism, the types of microorganisms that may be involved, and the biochemical mechanisms associated with the metabolism.

His research tends to focus on subterranean environments. An ongoing project studies shallow aquifers polluted by the myriad of chemicals in landfill leachate. In addition, he has participated in several collaborative efforts to explore the limits of microbial life in the terrestrial subsurface. Dr. Suflita strives to provide the basic scientific foundation upon which the solutions for applied environmental problems may be built. A number of his discoveries on biotechnological approaches for the destruction of problematic contaminants are now practiced by industry.

Since joining the University of Oklahoma faculty in 1982, Dr. Suflita has published more that 135 peer-reviewed articles and has supported his research with millions of dollars in research funding from federal agencies, industry and private foundations.

He was awarded the Sigma Xi Faculty Research Award in 1986, the OU Regents Award for Superior Accomplishment in Research and Creative Activity in 1990, and the Distinguished Lectureship Award from the Australian Society for Microbiology in 1992. His contributions to environmental biology were recognized by his election to chair the 1995 Gordon Research Conference in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Dr. Suflita serves on the American Society of Microbiology's (ASM) Committee on Environmental Microbiology and is a current ASM Foundation lecturer and past president of the ASM Missouri Valley Branch. He is an associate editor for Environmental Science and Technology, which is recognized as the leading interdisciplinary scientific journal devoted to environmental studies.

In addition, Dr. Suflita is an associate director and chair-elect of the Executive Committee of the Integrated Petroleum Environmental Consortium (IPEC). IPEC is a consortium of the universities of Oklahoma and Arkansas, with the goal of developing cost-effective and innovative technologies for pollution prevention, waste treatment and remediation in the domestic petroleum industry.

He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the State University of New York system. He holds a Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University and completed post-doctoral studies at Michigan State University.

Contact Information:
Joseph M. Suflita, Director
Institute for Energy and the Environment
MAPCO Professor of Environmental Quality
The Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy
The University of Oklahoma
100 E. Boyd St., Rm. 538
Norman, OK 73019-0628
PHONE: (405) 325-5761 FAX: (405) 325-7541