Biological wastewater treatment, wastewater microbiology, environmental microbiology, structure-function relationships in mixed microbial communities, microbial ecology, microbial evolution, antibiotic resistance.
Timothy LaPara is interested in microbial ecology - how organisms interact with each other and with their environment, and his research explores issues of interest to environmental engineers. LaPara's expertise is in the area of biological wastewater treatment, where he has worked on developing new biotechnologies for the treatment of municipal and industrial waste streams.
LaPara's current research focus is on the ecology of antibiotic resistance, specifically focusing on the role of waste management in the proliferation of resistance. He hypothesizes that there is a substantial environmental component to the spread of resistance and that the proliferation of antibiotic resistant bacteria can be substantially slowed by targeting and reducing the size of a few key reservoirs of resistant bacteria. The two most prominent reservoirs of resistance that LaPara is currently investigating are municipal wastewater and agricultural waste from animals fed subtherapeutic concentrations of antibiotics. His research focuses on quantifying the size of these reservoirs of resistance, characterizing key strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria contained by the reservoirs, and demonstrating that municipal wastewater and agricultural waste are pertinent reservoirs of resistance.
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