Michael D. Aitken, PhD

Professor Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering

T:(919) 966-1481


160 Rosenau Hall

CB #7431

Chapel Hill, NC 27599


Dr. Aitken's research focuses on the application of microbial processes to the biodegradation of organic pollutants (particularly polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and to waste treatment problems. This work has increasingly involved current methods in molecular microbial ecology, including DNA-based stable-isotope probing, high-throughput pyrosequencing and metagnomic sequencing.

He also is interested in evaluating the extent to which bioavailability governs the rate and extent of degradation of hydrophobic chemicals in contaminated systems, as well as the effects of bioremediation strategies on the genotoxicity of contaminated soil. Please see his website (www.unc.edu/~aitken) for information on specific projects and recent publications from his research group.

Key Publications

Screening Nonionic Surfactants for Enhanced Biodegradation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Remaining in Soil after Conventional Biological Treatment. Adrion, A.C., J. Nakamura, D. Shea, and M.D. Aitken  (2016). Environmental Science & Technology, 50(-), 3838-3845.

Complete genome sequence of a novel bacterium within the family Rhodocyclaceae that degrades polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Singleton, D.R., A.N. Dickey, E. Scholl, F.A. Wright, and M.D. Aitken  (2015). Genome Announcements, 3(2), online.

Coupling Nitrogen Removal and Anaerobic Digestion for Energy Recovery from Swine Waste Through Nitrification/Denitrification. Staunton, E.T., S.R. Bunk, G.W. Walters, S.C. Whalen, J. Rudek, and M.D. Aitken  (2015). Environmental Engineering Science, 32(-), 741-749.

Evaluating the effects of bioremediation on genotoxicity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-contaminated soil using genetically engineered, higher eukaryotic cell lines. Hu, J., J. Nakamura, S.D Richardson, and M.D. Aitken  (2012). Environmental Science and Technology, 46.

Stable-isotope probing of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-degrading bacterial guild in a contaminated soil. Jones, M.D., D.W. Crandell, D.R. Singleton, and M.D. Aitken  (2011). Environmental Microbiology, 13.


PhD, Civil Engineering, University of Notre Dame, 1988

MS, Civil Engineering, University of California, Davis, 1980

BS, Civil Engineering, University at Buffalo, 1978