Seminar Series: Detection of bacterial endospores: Biodefense to astobiology

Seminar Series: Detection of bacterial endospores: Biodefense to astobiology

Seminar Series: Detection of bacterial endospores: Biodefense to astobiology

This event occurred in the past

Date and Time

  • Thursday, September 18, 2008 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.


Serra Hall, Room 210

5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110




The department of Mathematics and Computer Science Seminar Series presents "Detection of bacterial endospores:From sterilization, biodefense to astrobiology" by Douglas Yung, Ph.D., NASA/Caltech

Faculty and undergraduates in any major are welcome. Refreshments served before seminar.

Bacterial spores, or endospores, are highly resistant to environmental extremes, and have long been fascinating subjects of investigation for a number of important applications, ranging from validation of sterilization and biodefense to astrobiology. Novel technologies are under development as a rapid method to validate and assure sterility level in medical and spacecraft assembly facilities. For example, the Anthrax Smoke Detector has been patented and tested to serve as a cost effective front-end monitor to identify exposed victims for prompt treatment. Several spectroscopic methods have also been developed to detect trace number of endospores in Arctic ice cores, Antarctic underground lake, deep-sea sediments and desert soils to understand the longevity and survival strategies of endospores by formulating mathematical models, which will consequently be applied in future extraterrestrial life detection missions.

Douglas Yung earned a B.S. in mathematics and electrical engineering from UCLA and a Ph.D. in bioengineering from Caltech. He has developed a time-resolved fluorescence microscopy technique to detect bacterial endospores in order to address basic science questions from determining the longevity of life on Earth, understanding resistance, viability and ubiquity of endospores to patented applications such as the Anthrax Smoke Detector, post-anthrax decontamination protocol and air monitoring systems to be used on long-term manned spacecrafts. The research is carried out under the Planetary Science and Life Detection section at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Yang's work has been presented in more than ten multidisciplinary national and international conferences, covering mathematics, bioengineering, microbiology, electrical engineering, chemistry and geophysics. His work on Anthrax Smoke Detector has been highlighted for press release during the American Society for Microbiology Annual General Meeting in 2006 and has received widespread publicity in the media. His current research interests include biophotonics, astrobiology, molecular & environmental microbiology, planetary protection, as well as life-searching expeditions in extreme places on Earth.

For more information, e-mail or call (619) 260-2932.  


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