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Alan W. Decho , M.Sc., Ph. D.
Professor, Environmental Health Science
Associate Dean for Research
Director, Microbial Interactions Laboratory

University of South Carolina
Department of Environmental Health Sciences
Public Health Research Center (PHRC), 509A
Arnold School of Public Health
921 Assembly Street
Columbia, SC 29208

Phone: (803) 777-9248
Fax: (803) 777-3391
E-mail: awdecho@mailbox.sc.edu

2014: ASSOCIATE DEAN for RESEARCH, Arnold School of Public Health, USC
2012: DIRECTOR of GRADUATE STUDIES, Environmental Health Sciences, USC
2010: ASSOCIATE CHAIR, Environmental Health Sciences, USC
2002: PROFESSOR, Environmental Health Sciences, USC
1998: ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, Environmental Health Sciences, USC
1995: Associate Faculty, School of the Environment, USC
1994: Associate Faculty, Marine Sciences Program, USC
1994: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, Environmental Health Sciences, USC
1989-93: Post-doctoral researcher, USGS, Menlo Park, Calif.
1988-92: Post-Doctoral researcher: Marine Sciences, SUNY- Stony Brook, NY
1987-88: Post-Doctoral researcher, CSIRO Marine Laboratories, Queensland, Australia


2013 Fulbright Senior Research Fellow, University of St. Andrews, SCOTLAND
2013 MASTS Fellowship (Marine Alliance for Science/Technology in Scotland), SCOTLAND
2003 Recipient, USC Educational Foundation Research Award for Health Sciences
1999 Recipient, USC School of Public Health Research Award (School-wide Compeition);
1989 National Research Council (NRC) Post-Doctoral Fellow;
1987 Fulbright Hays Post-Doctoral Scholar - AUSTRALIA

  • biofilms in oceans/ microbial mats
  • extracellular polymeric secretions (EPS) of bacteria
  • biofilms in hospital infections, pathogen survival, antibiotic interactions
  • chemical signaling in natural biofilms
  • animal / microbial interactions and bioavailability
  • nanoparticles as antimicrobial delivery vehicles for infections
  • environmental-nanoparticle interactions in biofilms

Dr. Decho's laboratory researches attached microbial communities, called "BIOFILMS". Biofilms occur when bacteria and/or other microbes attach to surfaces and surround themselves with protective extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). Cells then begin communicating with each other, coordinate expression of certain genes, and organizing their activities. These properties make the biofilm a 'resilient refugia' for bacteria; one that is able to resist natural stressors, and most antimicrobial agents. Biofilm formation is important and fundamental parameter of natural systems, but is also a significant problem in engineered systems and biomedical processes (e.g. hospital-acquired infections and persistent infections, biofouling of implant devices, cancer and engineered drug delivery).

Decho, AW, RL Frey, JL Ferry 2011. Chemical challenges to bacterial AHL signaling in the environment. Chemical Reviews 111: 86-99

Ferry JL., P Craig, C Hexel, P Sisco, R Frey, PL Pennington, MH Fulton, IG Scott, AW Decho, S Kashiwada, CJ Murphy, TJ Shaw (2009). Transfer of gold nanoparticles from the water column to the estuarine food web. Nature Nanotechnology 4:441-444.

Decho AW, PT Visscher, J Ferry, T Kawaguchi, L He, KM Przekop, RS Norman, RP Reid (2009) Autoinducers extracted from microbial mats reveal a surprising diversity of N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHLs) and abundance changes that may relate to diel pH. Environmental Microbiology 11:409-420.

Decho AW, T Kawaguchi, M Allison, E Louchard, RP Reid, C Stephens, KJ Voss, RA Wheatcroft, BB Taylor (2003) Sediment properties influencing upwelling spectral reflectance signatures: the "biofilm gel effect". Limnology and Oceanography 48:431-443.

Reid RP, PT Visscher, AW Decho, et al. (2000) The role of microbes in accretion, lamination, and early lithification of modern marine stromatolites. Nature 406: 989-992.

Decho AW (1990) Microbial exopolymer secretions in ocean environments: Their role(s) in food webs and marine processes.Oceanography & Marine Biology Annual Review 28:73-154.

Analytical Concepts (ENHS 787)
Biofilms in the Environment and Disease (ENHS 665)
Public Health Microbiology (ENHS 450)

Columbia, SC 29208 • 803-777-7000 • enhsweb@mailbox.sc.edu