Biofilm Laboratory

The Nerenberg research group focuses on biofilms and biofilm processes. This includes biofilm processes for water and wastewater treatment, fundamental studies, as well as novel biofilm reactors. A major focus is on biofilm and membranes, such as the membrane-aerated biofilm reactor (MABR). More recent studies address clinical (infectious) biofilms, algal biofilms, and fungal biofilms.


Biofilms are naturally forming aggregates of bacteria, algae, or fungi embedded in a self-produced gel layer known as extracellular polymeric substance (EPS). They are the dominant form of microbial growth in most environments. They may play beneficial roles, as in biotreatment processes, or detrimental roles, as in membrane biofouling or pathogenic biofilms.

Bacteria behave differently when in biofilms. Understanding and these differences is key to managing biofilms, whether in the context of treatment processes, biofouling, clinical systems, or dental systems.

Dr. Nerenberg’s group uses advanced experimental tools, molecular tools, and modeling to understand and predict the behavior of biofilms. Our research is helping develop the next generation of treatment technologies for sustainable water management.