Degree Institution: University of Illinois
Degree: Ph.D. Biophysics and Computational Biology
Year Graduated: 1996
Research Areas: Bacterial genetics and genomics, metagenomics, microbiology of human-built urban environments
Bio: Cynthia Gibas is a Professor in the Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics at UNC Charlotte. Her research is in the area of microbial genomics. She is currently leading the University’s COVID-19 wastewater monitoring effort, which has been a cost-effective method for preventing COVID-19 outbreaks among students livingon-campus since Fall of 2020. She is also co-director of the university’s viral surveillance sequencing lab, which provides information about the spread of viral variants for Mecklenburg County and for NC-DHHS and informs the international pandemic monitoring effort. With researchers in the Departments of Biology, Geography and Earth Science, and Civil and Environmental Engineering, she has previously studied the impact of treated wastewater release on urban streams in the Charlotte area. The long term goal of these collaborations is to develop models of microbial communities in built and human-impacted environments, to identify sources of ecosystem resilience, to help communities use land and water safely, and to predict and mitigate future environmental health challenges.
Dr. Gibas is the founder of the North Carolina Urban Microbiome Project. With researchers in the Departments of Biology, Geography and Earth Science, and Civil and Environmental Engineering, we are studying the impact of treated wastewater release on urban streams in the Charlotte area. While water treatment in Charlotte is generally safe and effective, release of treated water contributes to elevated ambient levels of antibiotics downstream of the release point, as well as changes in the microbial community of the streams. We have assays for antibiotic resistant microbes, impacts of land applications of biosolids to crop land, and other related studies in the works. The long term goal of the collaboration is to develop models of environmental systems that will identify sources of ecosystem resilience, help us use land and water adjacent to cities safely, and perhaps eventually, to engineer the ecosystem to continue to support human communities in a changing climate.