Sobecky Honored for Contributions to Environmental Microbiology

Patty Sobecki

Biology professor Dr. Patty Sobecki was recognized recently for her contributions to microbiology.

Biology professor Dr. Patty Sobecki was recognized recently for her contributions to microbiology.Dr. Patty Sobecky, professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, was recently awarded the James C. Freeley Award from the Southeastern Branch of the American Society for Microbiology in recognition of her contributions to environmental microbiology.

Environmental biology is the study of the composition and physiology of microbial communities in a specific environment, and is just one of the specialized areas of biology that is represented in the membership of the Southeastern Branch of the American Society for Microbiology. Each year, this organization gives out the James C. Freeley Award, named in honor of a longtime member who worked with the Centers for Disease Control for more than 20 years.

Sobecky received a Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Georgia in 1993 and finished her postdoctoral research at the University of California at San Diego. Prior to joining the Department of Biological Sciences as professor and chair in 2009, Sobecky was on the faculty at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Her research interests include the treatment of hazardous mixed waste sites, particularly those contaminated with heavy metals. Specifically, she studies the microbial organisms that cannot be seen by the naked eye that are needed for cells to survive in areas that need to be cleaned up after contamination.

In 2010, Sobecky was the recipient of a National Science Foundation Rapid Response Research grant along with Dr. Behzad Mortazavi, an assistant professor of biological sciences, which was used to assist in the research and cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that affected Alabama’s Gulf Coast. The grant was used to investigate ways to increase the rate at which naturally occurring marine microbes can break down oil.