May 20, 2022

Archita Bhattacharyya

Photo of Archita Bhattacharyya

PhD: Altered states: The mysterious microbial ecosystem beneath our feet: Unravelling groundwater microbiology

Location: British Geological Survey, Wallingford

University: Lancaster University

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I have completed M.Sc. in Geology from IIT Kharagpur, India and B.Sc. in Geology from University of Burdwan, India. I found my passion to study hydrogeology during my B.Sc. when I was working on a research project aiming to delineate the zones of saline water intrusion in coastal aquifers using electrical resistivity survey. For my Master’s dissertation, I worked on hydro-geochemistry of the Central Gangetic basin in India in order to understand controlling factors of water chemistry and to assess the threat to the water quality through pollutant migration owing to the hydrological interaction between river Ganges and the adjacent alluvial aquifer.

The primary goal of my research is to study the indigenous microbial ecosystem of the groundwater system of the UK. The microbial ecosystem of subterranean aquifers of the UK is little understood. Most of the studies are based on sites of groundwater contamination. Furthermore, major attention is given to bacterial communities in these studies and other microbes like protozoa, fungi, viruses are often overlooked. My project aims to undertake the first investigation of the UK’s subterranean microbial ecosystem to understand its current status and controls. The first objective of my research is to explore the abundance, activity, ecosystem structure and biodiversity of microbes in UK aquifers. Afterwards, I will infer the environmental controls causing the range of microbial ecosystem structures and biodiversity. To achieve my research goals, alongside field work for sample collection, I will be integrating laboratory techniques of molecular biology as well as hydro-chemistry. The data obtained from this research will provide a platform for establishing groundwater ecological monitoring system in the UK.