Michael Piotrowski

Department of Botany

University of Wisconsin

430 Lincoln Drive

Madison, WI 53706-1381

Office: 210 Birge Hall

Email: mpiotrowski@wisc.edu

This is not the graduate student you are looking. He may go about his business. Move along.

Educational Background: B.S. in Botany, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2011
My interest in Phycological research started while taking Linda’s course ‘Algae,’ where I fell in love with microscopy, potential uses of algae as learning tools, and potential algal products to aid society. After graduating I worked with Phd candidates Reese Zulkifly, and Izak Smith in the lab, collecting algae from lake Mendota and the Nine Springs waste treatment facility in Madison, and then processing the biomass for various purposes. Later I worked for a startup company AlgaeSystems LLC, where I maintained algal cultures, conducted experiments to optimize microalgal growth for biofuel production, and managed a team of workers. At the end of the AlgaeSystems LLC contract period I was offered a permanent position in the company. I realized that I was coming to the limit of my expertise in Phycology, and wanting to continue doing research, so I started my masters in the Graham lab in the fall of 2012.

Research Interests: First and foremost I am interested in the environmental impacts of freshwater filamentous green macroalgae. Periphyton communities in freshwater systems are understudied, and their potential impact on environments, as buffers for nutrients, attachment sites for diatom growth, etc. are likely important in any freshwater ecosystem. My second major interest is algal cellulose. Cellulose is becoming increasingly important in biotechnology, and algal celluloses may be ideal for many of those applications. Freshwater filamentous green algae often have cellulose rich cell walls, making studies of algal cellulose naturally coupled with studies of periphyton communities. Celluloses are also ideal for the sequestration of carbon since they can persist upwards of 800 million years. My other interests include; applications of algae for biotechnology, bioremediation of wastewaters using algae, mircobiomes of algae, and the transition from freshwater algae to land plants.

Project: Using a full factorial design in a controlled environment (UW Biotron, 2115 Campus Drive), I am conducting experiments on physiological optimization of the growth and cellulose production of freshwater filamentous algae for biotechnology applications. I will be characterizing the cellulose produced by those organisms using FTIR, Raman Spectroscopy, SEM, TEM, light microscopy, and Atomic Force Microscopy. Additionally I will be working on classifying CesA genes from the organisms I am studying. My goal is to gain a broader understanding of algal celluloses, and potentially start a baseline for future studies into algal celluloses.

Graham, L.E., Knack, J.J., Piotrowski, M.J., Cook, M.E., Wellman, C.H., Taylor, W., Lewis, L.A., Arancibia-Avila, P. 2014. Lacustrine Nostoc (Nostocales) and Associated Microbiome Generate a New Type of Modern Clotted Microbialite. Journal of Phycology.

Zulkifly, S.B., Graham, J.M., Young, E.B., Mayer, R.J., Piotrowski, M.J., Smith, I., Graham, L.E. 2013. The Genus Cladophora Kützing (Ulvophyceae) as a Globally Distributed Ecological Engineer. Journal of Phycology. 49:1-17.

Zulkifly, S., Hanshew, A., Young, E.B., Lee, P., Graham, M.E., Graham, M.E., Piotrowski, M., Graham, L.E. 2012. The Epiphytic Microbiota of the Globally Widespread Macroalga Cladophora glomerata (Chlorophyta, Cladophorales). American Journal of Botany. 99:1541-52.