COLUMBIA, Mo. (July 2, 2020) – Chung-Ho Lin, Ph.D., has always been inspired by how mother nature could offer to clean up the pollution caused by human activities. If the combination of these components (e.g., plants, microbes, enzymes) is arranged in the right time and right place, the integrated system could be very powerful, in terms of cleaning up the environments.
He earned a doctoral degree in Phyto/Bioremediation (2002) from the University of Missouri. He is currently the research associate professor at the Center for Agroforestry in the School of Natural Resources. It’s one of the world’s leading centers contributing to the science underlying agroforestry practices that involves intensive land-use management combining trees and/or shrubs with crops and/or livestock. He is also the lead scientist for the bioremediation research program, which is the treatment of pollutants or waste.
Due to his scientific expertise, in May of this year, Dr. Lin was invited by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to join a task force, ‘Coronavirus Sewershed Surveillance Project’ sponsored by the Center of Disease Control (CDC) Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases (ELC) Program.
“My role is to help the team develop a sensitive molecular method to detect and quantify the concentrations of the SARS-COV-2 (Covid-19 virus) in sewage wastewater collected from 80 facilities across the state of Missouri, including wastewater treatment plants, meat processing plants, nursing homes, and prisons,” he said.
“I learned that the same routine molecular analytical technique used in my lab has been successfully applied for detecting the SARS-COV-2 for the clinical diagnosis application,” Lin said. They developed several novel molecular analytical approaches for detection and quantification of genetic materials, biological agents, microbial degraders and pathogens in the environments, including municipal wastewater, sediments, surface and groundwater and soils.
The objects of the project were to use domestic wastewater to determine the distribution of SARS-CoV-2 in Missouri, identify trends in SARS-CoV-2 prevalence in areas surveilled, and monitor for indicators of SARS-CoV-2 reemergence to inform mitigation efforts.
From working with the government regarding a pandemic to working in higher education, Lin has had many memorable moments. During professor Lin’s time at Mizzou he has witnessed some of the knowledge generated from the benchtop experiments in his lab get translated into real-world applications and to witness students’ career take off and land their dream jobs after they completed their training in my program.
His advice for current graduate students and postdocs as they navigate academia is to never settle easily and always shoot high. Forget about all the disciplinary, departmental, geographic, and cultural boundaries. Students and scholars can be anyone they want to be.
Lin said, science can be very powerful. The ultimate goal of science is to generate the knowledge that could immediately benefit the communities.