GPSAW 2023: Zabrenna Griffiths

Zabrenna Griffiths is using bioremediation to address pollution and other environmental issues. She is pursuing her doctorate in the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute Bredesen Center’s Genome Science and Technology program.

“I am passionate about contributing to the development of innovative and sustainable solutions to complex environmental problems that impact human health and safety,” she said.

“The focus of my research is on investigating crude oil biodegradation in aquatic ecosystems, with a particular interest in the bioremediation potential of microbes. The ultimate goal of this research is to increase our understanding of biodegradation pathways and develop effective strategies for addressing water quality issues associated with the oil and gas industry.”

Griffiths said she got interested in this field growing up in Manchester, Jamaica, where bauxite mining and refining harmed the environment.

“This pushed me towards environmental protection and stewardship,” she said.

Griffiths earned a scholarship to study environmental science at Florida A&M University where she researched microbes capable of transforming mercury and uranium into less bioavailable forms.

“This sparked my interest in the incredible adaptability and bioremediation potential of microbes,” she said.

Being at UT-ORII has given her access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment and helped her broaden her bioinformatic and programming skills.

“Additionally, the center has provided me with invaluable opportunities to collaborate and network with other researchers, which has helped to expand my knowledge and skills in the field,” she said.

In her spare time, Griffiths enjoys arts and crafts, including building structures out of Legos. She said her boyfriend is her “traveling buddy and fellow foodie.”

“We enjoy being out in nature, supporting local farmers and visiting farmers’ markets, and cooking or trying new restaurants together. I’m also a home baker and I love coming up with new recipes or recreating Jamaican desserts that I loved as a child but can’t get in Tennessee.”

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