Beth Ahner is a Professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering and is currently serving as a Senior Associate Dean in CALS. Her professional objectives have been to explore basic science in pursuit of better engineering solutions. In particular, she seeks to understand how organisms adapt to trace metal stress in the environment and in turn, how they influence the form of metals in the environment. Discoveries in this area lead to better strategies to remediate metal contamination in the environment and to a better understanding of natural ecosystems.
Professor Ahner’s research in environmental biotechnology explores how plants solubilize, take up, detoxify, and sequester metals. Her lab group focuses on questions involving intracellular detoxification mechanisms and how biological processes affect the biogeochemical cycling of metals in both the natural environment and in engineered systems. One application of this research is phytoremediation, the use of plants to remove metals from contaminated soils.