DeLauren McCauley, Ph.D.

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Area of Doctoral Study: Chemistry

Undergraduate Institute: North Carolina Central University

Research Advisor: William LaCourse, Ph.D.

Current Position : Postoc Fellow, U.S. Army Medical Institute of Chemical Defense

Description of Research

For the past fifty years, aquaculture has become one of the world’s largest growing branches of food production through the process of farming a variety of aquatic organisms.  Recirculating aquaculture technology emerged to reduce environmental contamination from traditional aquaculture systems. Consequently, this improved technology has shown concern of off-flavor accumulation in the systems and the finfish populations.  The following compounds, isopropylmethoxypyrzine (IPMP), isobutylmethoxypyrazine (IBMP), methylisoborneol (MIB), and geosmin, produced by microbial bio-filters tend to cause a musty and earthy odor in fish resulting in unmarketable products. The origin of these off-flavor compounds can be attributed to microbial metabolites from actinomycetes, cyanobacteria, and fungi.   Recirculating aquaculture systems (RASs) are properly configured to monitor several life sustaining processes and incorporates microbial biofilters to manage and eliminate accumulated nutrient waste.  Interestingly, the exact source of off-flavor compounds within these RASs is not completely known.  The focus of my research project is the analysis of odorous compounds in recirculating aquaculture systems using Headspace Trap – Gas Chromatography followed by Mass Spectrometry for detection in RASs.  Using a validated analytical method will provide quantitative data for further RAS configurations and correlation for a variety of system parameters.