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Professor’s research impacts Hong Kong student

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November 27, 2012

Dave BachoonDave BachoonDr. Dave Bachoon’s expertise in tracking water pollutants led to a rare opportunity to meet a student nearly 8,400 miles away.

This semester the Georgia College associate professor of biological and environmental sciences received an invitation to serve on a research thesis committee at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

“When I received the email request from student Rulong Liu’s professor, Stanly Lau, at the university to judge Liu’s research thesis, I thought at first it may have been spam,” said Bachoon. “My first time meeting Liu was when I arrived in Hong Kong. It makes you feel good when you find out that others are reading your research papers and want your expertise on a subject.”

Liu reached out to Bachoon because of the professor’s extensive and specialty work in microbial source tracking.

Bachoon is the only professor at Georgia College who studies microbial source tracking — a method used to identify sources of pollution coming from sewage treatment plants, septic tanks or wildlife.

“This field is important to reduce the level of pollution in a water body,” Bachoon said. “The method allows the resource managers to know what needs fixing. Many researchers in the United States use this method, but when we started, there were only a few labs in the country doing this procedure.”

Liu’s thesis, “Diversity, distribution and population dynamics of fecal Bacteroidales community in the marine environment of Hong Kong,” parallels Bachoon’s research, giving the professor the opportunity to discuss his work and find out what researchers in Hong Kong have developed to track marine and freshwater pollutants.

“Being invited to serve on the dissertation committee at one of the top universities in Asia is a testament to Dr. Bachoon’s reputation in his research field,” said Ken Procter, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The dedication of faculty like him to research and experiential learning is an important facet of our liberal arts mission at Georgia College.”

Dr. Bachoon hopes the trip opens the door for future collaborations with scientists from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

“The trip showed me how globally significant water pollution is and the different strategies used to cope with this problem in other countries,” said Bachoon. “I also received the chance to work with other students in the lab and meet other professors from the university.”

Bachoon has spent 10 years tracking pollutants in bodies of water. His research has taken him from Lake Oconee and Puerto Rico to Trinidad and Tobago.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. Johns, Canada. He earned a master’s degree in biological sciences from Florida International University in Miami. He earned a doctorate in microbiology from The University of Georgia in Athens.

For more information about his research, email or call 478-445-0812.

ABOUT GEORGIA COLLEGE: Georgia College, the state’s designated Public Liberal Arts University, combines the educational experience expected at esteemed private liberal arts colleges with the affordability of public higher education. Its four colleges – arts and sciences, business, education and health sciences – provide 6,600 undergraduate and graduate students with an exceptional learning environment that extends beyond the classroom, with hands-on involvement with faculty research, community service, study abroad and myriad internships.

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For more information, contact University Communications at (478) 445-4477.