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SQU student shines at global Microbiome meet

29 Nov 2023 Fatema Khalifa al Mendhry By MOHAMMED TAHA

Muscat – Fatema Khalifa al Mendhry, a post-graduate student specialising in soil and water management in the College of Agriculture and Marine Science at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), has earned accolades for the sultanate with her groundbreaking research.

Her presentation at the international conference Microbiome: Human, Plant and Environmental Health – Applications and Challenges, held in Abu Dhabi on November 21 and 22, won her the first place in the poster presentation category.

Fatema’s research, titled Abundance and Diversity of Oil-degrading Bacteria in Produced Water Wetland Treatment System, Rima – Oman, was part of her master’s degree thesis.

She informed Muscat Daily that her scholastic effort was mentored by consultant Dr Daniel Blackburn, leading to the prize-winning poster presentation at the conference that saw over 500 participants from 28 countries.

Started in October 2022, her project focuses on Rima Water Treatment Project, implemented in July 2022 and set to operate for 20 years.

The study aims to analyse the abundance and diversity of oil-degrading bacteria in the wetland ecosystem and evaluate water quality in the distribution network. Additionally, it seeks to isolate microbes capable of degrading oil under various environmental conditions, contributing to the future enhancement of water treatment processes.

Despite challenges like the 700km distance between the study site and SQU and the need for quick and precise sample collection, Fatema persevered. She’s grateful to Veolia company for supporting her research and to Blackburn for his guidance.

Fatema hopes her research contributes significantly to the field of environmental management. She anticipates isolating oil-degrading bacteria will enhance the treatment process, improve quality of produced water and aid in the improvement of the Rima Wetland system.

Furthermore, her findings could reduce costs associated with traditional water treatment methods, marking a significant advancement in sustainable environmental practices.

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