- Food Science and Technology
Dr. Simmons’ research focuses on improving energy and water use efficiency in food processing by reclaiming energy from waste biomass streams and developing strategies for waste water treatment and recycling. Specifically, high-throughput, massively parallel sequencing and bioinformatics approaches are used to characterize microbial communities that are able to deconstruct waste biomass into fermentable sugars under industrial conditions. These data are used to discover enzymes and molecular pathways that can improve industrial bioconversion of waste biomass into biofuels. Additionally, the microbial ecology of plant-soil systems exposed to food processing effluents is studied to develop strategies for recycling of food processing waste water to agriculture.