Office for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics
Faculty Profile
Barkay, Tamar
Tamar's Profile
Tamar's Story
Barkay, Tamar

Phone: 732-932-9763, ext. 333

Ph.D., University of Maryland, 1980

Professional Summary/CV [.PDF]

Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, New Brunswick; Rutgers
Areas of Interest
Microbial Ecology of the Interactions of Microbes with Toxic Metals.
Memberships and Professional Service
American Society for Microbiology; American Association for the Advancement of Science; American Academy of Microbiology; International Society for Microbial Ecology.
Grants, Honors, and Awards
Research Excellence Award, Cook College, Rutgers University, 2004; Department of Energy, NABIR Program, "Microbial pathways for the reduction of mercury in saturated subsurface sediment," Lead PI (with Lily Young and Gerben Zylstra, RU), 2005-2008; National Science Foundation, Bigeoscience Program, "Collaborative research: Mercury isotope fractionation during microbial and abiotic redox transformations," Co-PI with Joel Blum, U. of Michigan, 2004-2008; Scientific and Technological Achievement Award in the category of Ecology - Level II, 1988.
Academic Interests and Plans
Research in my laboratory is focused on the microbial ecology of the interactions of microbes with toxic metals. Specifically. we are looking at microbial transformations of metals and how they affect metal toxicity and accumulation patterns in the environment and at the genetics and physiology of metal resistance and transformations in bacteria. This research supports efforts in bioremidiation of metal contaminated environments. Our research relies heavily on the application of molecular tools. such as cloning. gene probing. mRNA transcript analysis. sequencing. PCR amplification. and phylogenetic analyses in microbial ecology.

Several on-going research projects are focused on the role of microbes in the formation and accumulation of methylmercury in aquatic environments. Methylmercury is the most toxic form of mercury. which is accumulated and biomagnified in fish and shellfish. posing a risk to predators (including humans) that rely on the aquatic food chain for sustenance. Our studies are focused on environments with elevated mercury concentrations as a result of man activities or geothermal enrichments. Current projects are conducted in the Meadowlands. NJ. the Adirondacks. NY. and in deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

A third project examines the evolutionary pathways of metal homeostasis among microorganisms. In particular. we are interested in the role of horizontal gene transfer in the evolution of metal resistance in microbial communities that inhabit metal and radionuclei impacted subsurface (below the root zone) soils. Such genetic spread might facilitate microbial survival and activities in metal contaminated environments.