Northwestern University

Fri 2:00 PM

EES Seminar: Chrissy Cabay

When: Friday, May 31, 2019
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM  

Where: Technological Institute, A230, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Tierney Acott   847.491.3257

Group: McCormick - Civil and Environmental Engineering

Category: Lectures & Meetings


The Aquarium Microbiome: Engineering For Sustainability and Health

Public aquariums are unique “built environments.” For every square meter of visitor space, another three are needed behind-the-scenes, where complex water treatment and distribution systems maintain physicochemical parameters critical for animal health. Until recently, microbial management in aquariums aimed solely at promoting N cycling and eradicating potential pathogens. Armed with evidence from human health and a new molecular ecology laboratory, Shedd Aquarium is challenging managers of aquatic systems to rethink conventional approaches to disinfection by evaluating protective effects of a rich environmental microbiome. Since diverting increasing amounts of reclaimed water to cetacean habitats, Shedd has observed increased microbial richness in pool waters as well as improved clinical outcomes for dolphins and beluga whales. In a South American river exhibit, collaboration with environmental engineers at University of Michigan has led to a new understanding how filtration elements drive abundance of Mycobacterium species. With access to a global animal collection, powerful genomic tools and a public audience of 2 million annual visitors, ex situ aquarium research is positioned to directly influence conservation, education and policy.

As the Director of Scientific Advancement at Shedd, Chrissy Cabay oversees development of a research program dedicated to understanding the impact of the environmental microbiome on aquatic animal health. In addition to managing the research team she is responsible for recruiting support and building partnerships with stakeholders including universities, regulatory agencies and institutional peers. 
Cabay’s diverse background includes marketing and project management experience in the for-profit sector as well as leadership roles in education, marketing and development while at Shedd. Trained as a molecular biologist, she has authored several research papers in the fields of biochemistry and genomics. Cabay holds a master’s degree in biology with a concentration in neurobiology and physiology from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Northwestern University.

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