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  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Inclusive Excellence Seminar

This event is supported by the CALS Office for Diversity and Inclusion and is part of the CALS Dean’s Inclusive Excellence Seminar Series, which highlights academic excellence through inclusive science and creates a platform for extended discussions on how our science can and should be transformative in leading to best practices and policies that support social, economic, environmental and climate justice.

The CALS Dean’s Inclusive Excellence Seminar Series and the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering present: A conversation with Natalie L. Cápiro, Ph.D.

Talk abstract:
The use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) to extinguish fuel-based fires at military, industrial, and municipal sites since the 1970’s has resulted in widespread contamination of persistent per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS, also termed “forever chemicals”). Drinking water supplies contaminated with PFAS now affect more than 16 million people in the U.S., including a disproportional impact on low-income communities. Further, PFAS exposure can result in adverse health effects such as impaired vaccine (antibody) response, damage to reproductive health, kidney disease, and possible carcinogenicity. Therefore, there is a current and critical need to improve our fundamental understanding of processes that influence PFAS fate and transport in the environment as they relate to the development of effective remediation strategies. While field measurements have documented partial transformation of PFAS, the mechanisms of such processes, including both abiotic and biotic pathways, are largely unknown. In this this presentation, I will highlight the results of our on-going research demonstrating the potential for biological transformation of select PFAS found in AFFF under conditions representative of impacted sites using native microbial communities. Specifically, I will discuss aerobic and anaerobic microbial defluorination that occurs via novel transformation pathways. To expand the impact of the acquired knowledge beyond the traditional academic framework, I will also discuss how we are working to make these (and other) results accessible to practitioners through organizations such as the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council and impacted communities through groups such as DreamWakers.

Natalie L. Cápiro Bio:
Dr. Natalie Cápiro is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Biosystems Engineering at Auburn University. Previously, Dr. Cápiro was a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Tufts University. She completed her postdoctoral studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology, M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University, and B.S. in Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University. Dr. Cápiro’s research interests include environmental microbiology, bioremediation, fate and transport of legacy and emerging contaminants in natural systems, and nanoparticle-microbial interactions in the environment. Her work is primarily supported by funding from the National Science Foundation and the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP), including a study that won the 2012 SERDP Environmental Restoration Project of the Year.

Date & Time

February 1, 2022
11:00 am - 12:30 pm


Natalie L. Cápiro headshot

More information about this event.

Contact Information

Nicole Albright

  • nja35 [at]


Natalie Cápiro , Ph.D.


Biological and Environmental Engineering

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