Meet 2023 GRAM Recipient: Zachary Burton
"Corrosion is a spontaneous electrochemical process that results in the deterioration of metals, this process costs many fields across the globe trillions of dollars each year. Microbial biofilms have been identified in many studies as one of the causes for corrosion of metal surfaces through a process called microbiologically induced corrosion (MIC). However, microbial biofilms have also been implicated more recently as inhibitors of corrosion through microbiologically influenced corrosion inhibition (MICI).
Currently, I am comparing the corrosion outcomes of steel and aluminum surfaces with environmental biofilms grown from various local soil/water sources and pure culture biofilms such as Bacillus cereus, Shewanella putrefaciens, and Pseudomonas fluorescens. These outcomes are analyzed using electrochemical analyses, metagenomic sequencing, and microscopy to investigate the link between the microbial community and the surface chemistry at the biofilm/metal interface. Overall, our results will shed light on the complex interactions between naturally occurring microbial biofilms and metal surfaces with a focus on corrosion outcomes.
The I.M. program at Iowa State University has helped me in my pursuit of my Ph.D. by providing a welcoming and helpful environment. From both acquiring the G.R.A.M. for extra financial support to having a support system in my fellow MGSO members, the I.M. program has put forth various resources to help me move forward with my research. After obtaining my Ph.D. I hope to continue doing fun, innovative, and collaborative research while mentoring junior scientists by either working for a government agency such as the D.o.D. or as professor at a university."