Changseok Han, University of Cincinnati environmental engineering and science doctoral candidate, presented his research on developing a biosensor that can detect the presence of cyanotoxins in drinking water at the American Chemical Society meeting Sept. 8-12.
Cyanotoxins are produced by harmful cyanobacteria known as blue-green algae, in potential sources of drinking water. These toxins produce harmful effects in humans if ingested, ranging from skin irritation to liver and kidney damage.
The sensor uses antibodies specific to the cyanotoxin microcystin-LR from the harmful blue-green algae. “Because the antibodies used in these sensors are highly sensitive to certain toxins, their use allows for a great deal of selectivity,” Han said. “This is a promising step forward in developing an emerging technology for which very little literature currently exists.”
Under the guidance of his current advisor, Dionysios D. Dionysiou, UC professor of environmental engineering, Han explored various approaches to water treatment—including using advanced oxidation processes, environmental nanotechnologies and environmental chemistry.
Han says that his time here at UC has been invaluable. “There are many great resources for someone in environmental engineering on campus and in the Cincinnati area, as well, especially with the EPA’s facility literally across the street from the university.”
Han received his master’s degree at the Yeungnam University in South Korea. After completing his doctorate, he plans to return to South Korea where he will teach and continue his research. With future research in mind, he has already begun exploring how the modified materials used for photocatalysis in water treatment might also serve as a basis for improving solar cell technology.