New microbiology course at UH Hilo gives students holistic view of the environment

The course gives students a unique perspective on microbial ecology and the health of the planet.

By Susan Enright.
This story is part of a series on new courses offered this semester.

A new course at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo boosts students understanding of the diverse roles of microorganisms in both terrestrial and marine environments. Environmental Microbiology (CBES 698) focuses on microbial biodiversity, microbes in extreme environments, environmental applications using microorganisms, bioremediation, antibiotic resistance, and biogeochemical cycling.

Students are also learning about the mechanisms of microorganisms and how they interact with the environment in a diversity of ways.

Collage of photos: waterfall, lehua, lab, nene, diver, lava, insect, fish, diver, valley, with the words " TCBES Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science, a graduate program of the University of Hawaii at Hilo." Also UH Hilo seal.“The course is beneficial to graduate students in the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science program in giving them a unique perspective on the microbial ecology of the diverse environments critical to supporting the health of the planet,” says Lisa Muehlstein, a UH Hilo lecturer in marine science who is teaching the class.

The course is the only microbiology oriented course in the graduate program. Although it is an elective, this course in combination with other graduate courses gives the students a holistic view of the environment.

“This perspective might otherwise be incomplete without the microbiology component,” explains Muehlstein.

Lisa Muehlstein

Muehlstein received her master of science in microbiology from Wright State University, Ohio, and her doctor of philosophy in botany from the University of Georgia.

Her initial research focused on seagrass disease and she spent time working in both temperate and tropical habitats with research projects. She moved on to conduct research on conservation issues in tropical seagrass habitats and spent many years working for the Virgin Islands National Park Service on a diversity of projects.

Since her move to Hawai‘i, Muehlstein is active in teaching at UH Hilo as a lecturer. Her course load has included the development of several new courses, including a successful online course, Current Issues in Marine Science, and lecture courses including Marine Microbial Ecology and the graduate course Environmental Microbiology.


About the writer of this story: Susan Enright is a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.

Also in this series on new courses: