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Grad student researches wastewater and its relation to COVID numbers

Chris Haupt examines anti-biotic resistant gene abundance in wastewater and the relationship to COVID numbers

| Author: Kendall Weishaupt | Media Contact: Kara Owens

Chris Haupt, a biochemistry and molecular biology graduate student, is researching the relationship between COVID numbers in wastewater samples and how it relates to antibiotic resistance genes. This research is taking place at the Mount Pleasant Wastewater Treatment Facility. 

The surveillance of the wastewater treatment facility began before Haupt joined Assistant Professor Maggie William’s lab. Haupt’s project began in November 2022. He analyzed wastewater samples, conducted PCR tests, and analyzed data to relate to the overall project.  

Haupt is looking for a relationship between COVID numbers in wastewater samples and how it relates to antibiotic resistance genes. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were being misdiagnosed and being prescribed antibiotics. With a higher amount of antibiotics ending up in wastewater, higher amounts of an antibiotic resistance gene could also end up in wastewater. Wastewater ends up in water treatment facilities where Haupt and other researchers are working on these projects.  

When it comes to his research Haupt said, “antibiotic resistance is already a huge issue, and will only get worse.” He wants to bring awareness to this field of study and to the potential that wastewater may be a reservoir for antibiotic-resistant genes. Hopefully, it will get more people inspired to research this topic further and combat any new strains. 

Haupt always had an interest in molecular biology and bacteria and how it affects us. Many people think ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ but bacteria and viruses can cause many life-threatening illnesses and infections. Haupt believes resistance is an important field to study because it can help people’s health and safety by knowing what’s out in our world.  

Haupt started his master's at CMU but now wants to extend this research into a Ph.D. He found passion in this subject because of his research at CMU and wants to continue his learning journey.

This story is brought to you by the  Office of Research and Graduate Studies.