Research Interests

With a Ph.D. in Microbiology, and trained in classical, lab-based microbiology, my graduate research focused on the field of biogeochemistry, studying microbes in different environments. Over the years I have been most interested in the prokaryotic biology of soils in either wetlands or temperate forests. I have directed one long-term study (nine years) of carbon and sulfur cycling in soils of Missouri Ozark forests subjected to timber cutting. Another human disturbance to natural ecosystems I have studied in detail is the impact of sulfur pollution (via acid precipitation, or due to acidic mine drainage) of freshwater wetlands, and the role that sulfate reducing bacteria in those wetlands might play in maintaining the pH balance of local streams. I also have experience studying marine wetlands (both salt mashes and mangrove swamps) relative to microbial manganese oxidation. Several students of mine and I have conducted research on the use of bacterial batteries in the degradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and organic matter associated with raw sewage. I have been involved with two collaborative projects with TVA to study the impact of coal ash leachates on water quality. Through another collaboration, this time with colleagues in UTC’s College of Engineering, several students of mine and I have studied roles that bacterial growth might play in the clogging of pervious concrete increasingly used in parking lots and on certain roads to reduce rates of runoff. Through collaborations with colleagues in UTC’s Physical Therapy department we have recently formed a research group focused on infection control in outpatient clinics. To date we’ve conducted three studies focused on therapeutic ultra sound, dry needing, and massage. In each case we have sampled clinic environments associated with the different practices to determine whether potential pathogens are present. We have detected methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) on gel bottles used for ultrasound, and on bottles of massage lotion. Our infection control group is about to initiate our first project in collaboration with Erlanger Hospital to sample the neonatal intensive care environment to determine whether potential pathogens are present in the unit.



2015.  Infectious Disease Agents in the Erlanger Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: An Investigation. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Office of Research (Co-PI with David Levine, Ph.D. – UTC, Janara Huff, MD – Erlanger Hospital, and Susan Berry, RN – Erlanger Hospital). $2,660.

2013. MRI: Acquisition of growth chambers for global change biology research and research training at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. NSF Division of Biological Infrastructure, Major Research Instrumentation. (Major participant with - Boyd J (PI); Chatzimanolis S, Klug H, Shaw J, Wilson TP (co-PIs); Potts GE). $342,945.

2012. Self-Cleaning Pervious Concrete Pavement. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Collaborative Research Initiative for Sponsored Programs. (With - Onyango, M., T. Thomas, B. Rollins, A. Soriano, M. Heinzer, and T. Kinder). $9,977.

2011. AlgaeWheel for treating fossil plant aqueous pollutants, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Components. Tennessee Valley Authority. $45,232.

2009-10. Acquisition of a laser confocal microscope for research and teaching purposes. National Science Foundation, Major Research Instrumentation Program. (Co-PI with E. Carver, S. Chatzimanolis, J. Kim, C. Nelson). $184,188.

2009-10. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga collaborative Projects for the NBII SAIN Node. U.S. Geological Survey. (Co-PI with J. Shaw, S. Smullen, T. Wilson, and A. Carroll). $65,000.

2009. A comparison of biodiversity of three groups of anaerobic bacteria in sediments of local wetlands having different histories of contamination. UC Foundation, Faculty Research Grants. $2,800.


Recent Publications

Spratt, H. G., Jr., D. Levine, and L. Tillman. 2014. Physical therapy clinic therapeutic ultrasound equipment as a source for bacterial contamination. In Press (Jan 2014) Physiotherapy Theory and Practice.

Spratt, H. G., Jr. 2002. The impact of timber harvest on surface soil microbial community activity in clear-cut Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project plots. p196-211. In S. R. Shifley and J. Kabrick (eds), Proceedings of the Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project Symposium, Natural Areas Association Conference, St. Louis, MO. Gen. Tech. Rep. GTR NC-227. St. Paul, MN: U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station.


Technical Reports

Spratt, H. G., Jr., 2012. AlgaeWheel for treating fossil plant aqueous pollutants, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga components. Project Report, Tennessee Valley Authority, Chattanooga, TN. 21 pp.

Spratt, H. G., Jr., I. Howlett, G. Brodie, and J. Pinnix. 2008. Assessment of microbial processes occurring in a constructed wetland treating acidic seep waters at the Widows creek Fossil Plant. Project Report, Tennessee Valley Authority, Chattanooga, TN. 30 pp.