Frank Löffler, Ph.D.
Center for Environmental Biotechnology
Governor’s Chair Professor for Microbiology and Civil & Environmental Engineering
FEWS Research Network Director
Dr. Frank Löffler is an environmental microbiologist whose research centers on discovering ways to clean the environment, counter the damage humans do to the ecosystems, and improve environmental health. He conducts fundamental research in interrelated focal areas: microbial community structure and function, novel bacteria, microbial detoxification of environmental pollutants, degradation pathways, monitoring tools, and bioremediation applications. Of particular interest are the microbial processes contributing to organic and inorganic contaminant detoxification, N- and C-turnover in soils and sediments, and greenhouse gas emission mitigation. Fundamental questions about keystone species and how they function in the context of microbial communities and the physical environment are studied. These efforts apply cutting-edge analytical tools including (meta)genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics to isolates, consortia and environmental samples. The identification of process-specific biomarkers leads to prognostic and diagnostic tools to detect and quantify microorganisms of interest, to monitor their activities, and to describe overall microbial community structure, dynamics, resilience and function within an environmental context. These research questions are addressed in collaborative teams, often in conjunction with industry or government partners for rapid transition of laboratory findings to real world applications.
Dr. Löffler also holds an adjunct appointment in the UT Institute of Agriculture Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science. He is also the Director of the FEWS Research Network, which identifies transdisciplinary research opportunities for scientists in the US and China working on the sustainable use of natural resources for food, energy, and water systems.