Valerie J. (Jody) Harwood

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(Speaker Term: July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2016)


Valerie J. (Jody) Harwood (term: 7/1/14 through 6/30/16)        

Department of Integrative Biology, SCA 110

University of South Florida

Tampa, FL  33620


Work Phone:  813-974-1524

Cell Phone:     813-468-7461

Fax:               813-974-3263




Primary Division:  Q (Environmental & General Applied Microbiology)

Secondary Division:  N (Microbial Ecology)             



What’s in Your Water: Microbial Source Tracking 

Commonly-used fecal indicators like coliforms and enterococci provide no information about fecal contamination sources, which limits remediation efforts and risk assessment.  Microbial source tracking (MST) uses the association of certain microorganisms with the gastrointestinal tract of specific hosts to trace a signal from water back to the origin of pollution.  MST combines microbial ecology with applied microbiology to improve knowledge about pollution issues that have important public health implications.  Current strategies and recent advances, as well as information gaps, will be discussed.      


Water Quality in the Time of Molecular Biology: New Regulations and Emerging Approaches

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rolled out new regulations for assessment of recreational water quality in 2013.  While some “old-school” methods were retained, quantitative PCR is among the allowable new methods.  Site-specific criteria for total maximum daily load (TMDL) plans will also be accepted if they are backed by sound science.  This talk will compare the old and new regulations, and their implications for water quality monitoring and public health. 


The Big Three Vibrio Pathogens: A Study in Contrast

Vibrio cholerae, Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus are bacterial “cousins” with distinct ecology, genetics, virulence, and disease symptoms.  This talk compares the three pathogens from all of these perspectives, and also discusses the implications of global climate change for their prevalence and transmission.     


The Life and Times of “Swamp Death” – Vibrio vulnificus Ecology and Virulence

Vibrio vulnificus is the major cause of death from seafood, e.g. oysters, consumed in the United States.  It causes severe gastroenteritis, septicemia, and wound infections so severe that amputation is frequently necessary.  The ecology and virulence of this naturally-occurring estuarine bacterium, including its ability to enter into a viable but nonculturable state, will be discussed. 


GIS for Graduate School: Free Pre-and Post-acceptance Advice

Should I apply to graduate school?  How do I make a strong application?  Which institution is right for me?  What can I expect when I show up?  And once I am there, how can I make the most of my opportunities and avoid pitfalls?  If I am having issues, who can help me?  When I am done with my Masters or Ph.D., what is the next step and how do I take it?  All of these questions apply to most graduate students at some point in their career.  A frank presentation, with plenty of time for questions and answers, is designed to help prospective and current graduate students. 


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH – Valerie J. (Jody) Harwood

Valerie J. (Jody) Harwood, Ph.D. is an environmental microbiologist and a Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida (USF), Tampa.  She earned her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at Old Dominion University and Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia.  One of Dr. Harwood’s major areas of expertise is microbial source tracking (MST), which endeavors to determine the source(s) of fecal pollution in water.  She is using quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA), microarray technology and metagenomics to improve interpretation and implementation of MST methods.  She is also interested in the persistence and ecology of enteric organisms in secondary habitats such as water and sediments. Harwood is the author of over seventy-five peer-reviewed papers on various areas of environmental microbiology and microbial ecology, including the efficacy of treatment for reclaimed water, the biochemistry of the hyperthermophile Pyrococcus furiosus, Vibrio genetics, physiology and detection in environmental waters, phylogeny and antibiotic resistance of Enterococcus spp., and MST and environmental persistence of fecal indicator bacteria.  Harwood is a major contributor to the USEPA Guide Document on MST, the co-editor of a 2011 book on MST, and a member of the editorial board of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.  Dr. Harwood has mentored over 60 undergraduate research students at USF.  Her program has produced eleven Ph.D.s, all of whom are employed in science research and/or teaching capacities, and six Master’s degrees.


CV is available by request from at ASM Headquarters


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