University of Pittsburgh Bradford
Singh edits new book, publishes articles with students
Singh Om
Dr. Om Singh

Dr. Om Singh, assistant professor of biology, is the editor of a new book, “Extremophiles: Sustainable Resources and Biotechnological Implications.” 

            Extremophiles, organisms that grow under extreme conditions, have long been of interest to Singh, who says they have great potential to help solve problems in global warming, biotechnology, medicine, food production and energy.  

            Singh gathered, curated and edited 17 chapters about extremophiles in order to bring them to the attention of the larger scientific community. Singh co-authored two of the chapters himself – one with former Pitt-Bradford students Erin Copeland and Nicholas Choy that looked at radiation-resistant microorganisms.  

The second chapter, written with scientists from the Department of Biotechnology, School of Engineering of Loreno, at the University of São Paulo, Lorena, Brazil, looks at replacing a chemical process used in the production of biofuel with a biological process.   

Singh has also been publishing and presenting articles with students and colleagues. His student Choy presented research conducted in collaboration with Dr. Francis Mulcahy, associate professor of chemistry, at the 11th New Jersey Symposium on Biomaterials Science and the 15th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences in Baltimore. Both presentations looked at the potential of microorganisms in bio-nanotechnology that Singh found in a cave in Virginia.  

These extremophile organisms survive in darkness and coolness. Their potential, Singh said, is in replacing chemical processes with green biological processes in the production of chemicals or biofuels. Another possible use, he said, is targeting nanoparticles-mediated medicines at specific areas of the body. Choy also presented results from this research at the Penn State Behrend-Sigma Xi Undergraduate Research and Creative Accomplishment Conference.  

Prashant Gabani, a 2011 graduate, and Singh have also published in the journals Extremophiles and Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry this year. Singh believes that publishing is important for top-level students.  

“I don’t let my students leave my lab without publishing something,” he said of student researchers, explaining that he will continue to work with them long after the research is done to help them get published. Having published, he said, really makes students stand out as they apply to medical and graduate school.  

His research student Choy also performed a research internship at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Dr. Guang William Wang’s laboratory over the last summer.  

Singh has even conducted research with high school students who are able to do independent research with him through the Bridges program, which allows high school students to take Pitt-Bradford courses for credit and at a greatly reduced cost.  

His work with Bradford Area High School student Manu Gajanan will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Emerging Investigators, and he is also working with BAHS senior Aziz Yousif on extremophiles that thrive in an electromagnetic field.  

Singh joined Pitt-Bradford in 2008 after completing his postdoctoral research at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine exploring proteomics-based therapeutic targets of cystic fibrosis.  

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