Melanie Mormile: Mars. Salt. Biofuels.

Common juncture • Melanie Mormile, Missouri S&T microbiologist



Her passion • Bacteria. Specifically those organisms that can live in extreme environments – places that don’t support more complex life forms.
Why she’s cool • She helped prove the theory that life could exist on Mars. Mormile is one of a group of researchers studying organisms found in the salt-water lakes of western Australia. The salts and acidic pH of the water mimics conditions found on Mars. Mormile found that prokaryotes (simple organisms that lack a nucleus) could handle the unusual environment.
Plan • Mormile hopes to return to Australia to isolate and characterize the bacteria to see what new species she might find. Once she knows what is there, she can learn things like what they eat and how they produce energy. Knowing details of their metabolism will help researchers understand the metabolism required to survive on Mars. She also hopes to figure out if the organisms have any applied uses – like in bioremediation or biofuel production. Enzymes in the acid-loving bacteria could help break down plant material to help form things like ethanol and hydrogen. In the meantime, Mormile samples mid-Missouri lakes.
Claim to fame • Missouri S&T Woman of the Year in 2008

Around the Puck

A new department for teaching

This past fall, the popularity of Missouri S&T’s STEM-focused teacher education program led to the establishment of an official academic department, called teacher education and certification.

[Read More...]

Claire Brewer: tuned in to healthcare

Claire Brewer, BSci’17, knew she wanted to become a doctor when she entered Missouri S&T.

[Read More...]

The power of influence

This past December, in addition to the traditional alumni commencement speaker, four graduating seniors addressed their fellow graduates.

[Read More...]

Assignment: Design a new animal shelter

Students in the architectural engineering design course spent the fall semester creating 15 potential designs for a new animal shelter in Rolla and presented six of them to the Rolla City Council in December. Two of the finalists are pictured above.

[Read More...]

“Alex’s Pizza, of course!”

We asked about your favorite place to eat, and boy did you respond. It was such an overwhelming response that Larry Gragg, author of Missouri S&T’s sesquicentennial history book, was inspired to write about it.

[Read More...]