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Katherine Heal Contributes to New Study on Arsenic and Lipids Featured in Chemical & Engineering News

By Katherine Heal, Ph.D., Scientist

Integral scientist Katherine Heal, Ph.D., contributes her insights and research on arsenic to the article “Bacteria incorporate arsenic into lipids” in the November 8, 2021, issue of Chemical & Engineering News. The article features results of a study Dr. Heal conducted during her time at the University of Washington, where her team of researchers sought to answer questions on the accumulation of arsenic into lipids.

Although dissolved arsenic has been a focus of several oceanographic studies, the size and chemical character of the particulate arsenic pool is poorly understood.  The new study, published in the open access journal Limnology and Oceanography Letters, 2021, found that bacteria in their natural marine environments can process arsenic by assimilating it into lipid compounds. The work supports the hypothesis that arsenolipid biosynthesis is a widespread phenomenon in marine systems.  Seaweeds have long been known to package arsenic into lipids, and this work expands this phenomenon to bacteria which may act as a future avenue of research for bioremediation in arsenic-laden systems.

Read the research.

Read Chemical and Engineering News article.

Dr. Katherine Heal is an environmental chemist with specialized experience in data analytics.  Her academic background includes integrating advanced mass spectrometry–based chemical analyses and multivariate statistics within geochemistry and marine microbial ecology.  Dr. Heal has led teams performing oceanographic fieldwork and has spent more than 150 days at sea.  With more than 5 years of experience with Python and R statistical software, Dr. Heal provides technical support on client projects involving data transformation, analysis, and visualization, as well as communication of environmental data sets.

Heal, K.R., A.E. Maloney, A.E. Ingalls, and R.M. Bundy. 2021.  Diverse arsenic-containing lipids in the surface ocean. Limnol. Oceanogr. Lett.

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Dr. Katherine Heal is an environmental chemist and chemical oceanographer with specialized experience in data analytics.  Her academic background includes... Full bio