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Dr. Susan Sage Heinzelman, Director 2505 University Avenue, A4900, Burdine Hall 536, Austin Texas 78712 • 512-471-5765

Mary Jo Kirisits

Associate Faculty Ph. D.

Assistant Professor



Dr. Kirisits's teaching interests include biological treatment processes, biofilms, environmental microbiology, and molecular biology. Her research emphasizes the importance of applying the tools of molecular biology and microbiology to better understand and optimize the performance of biological treatment processes and to prevent their catastrophic failure. Currently, she has seven projects in her laboratory:

1. Microbial arsenic oxidation in drinking water
2. Microbial perchlorate and bromate reduction in drinking water
3. Hydrocarbon biodegradation in freshwater sediments of Onondaga Lake
4. Sulfur oxidation in biofilters: biomarker development
5. Development of intra-watershed model for the transport of bacteria in surface water runoff
6. Assessment of phenotypic variation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms
7 . Investigation of microbial community in pediatric ear infections


B.S., State University of New York at Buffalo, Civil Engineering, 1995
M.S., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Environmental Engineering, 1997
Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Environmental Engineering, 2000

Representative Publications
De Long, S. K., K. A. Kinney, and M. J. Kirisits. (2008) “Prokaryotic Suppression Subtractive Hybridization PCR cDNA Subtraction, a Targeted Method to Identify Differentially Expressed Genes.” Applied and Environmental Microbiology 74:1:225

Kirisits, M. J., J. J. Margolis, B. L. Purevdorj-Gage, B. Vaughan, D. L. Chopp, P. Stoodley, and M. R. Parsek. (2007) “Influence of the Hydrodynamic Environment on Quorum Sensing in Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilms.” Journal of Bacteriology 189:22:8357.

Marsolek, M. D., M. J. Kirisits, and B. E. Rittmann. (2007) “Biodegradation of 2,4,5-trichlorophenol by Aerobic Microbial Communities: Biorecalcitrance, Inhibition, and Adaptation.” Biodegradation 18:3:351.

Kirisits, M. J., L. Prost, M. Starkey, and M. R. Parsek. (2005) “Characterization of Colony Morphology Variants from Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilms.” Applied and Environmental Microbiology 71:8:4809.

Kirisits, M. J., and M. R. Parsek. (2006) “Does Pseudomonas aeruginosa Use Intercellular Signalling to Build Biofilm Communities?” Cellular Microbiology 8:12:1841.

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