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Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Hal May, PhD

May PictureProfessor
Microbiology & Immunology

1990-1994  Research Scientist, Celgene Corp., Warren, NJ
1987-1990  Post Doctoral, USDA, Albany, CA 

1987  Ph.D., Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

Contact Info
Tel: 843-792-7140
BSB 208

Research Interests

Environmental microbiology focuses on the role of microorganisms in the synthesis and degradation of natural and anthropogenic compounds, and on the interactions of microbes with the physical environment and other organisms. The microbial cycling of chemicals, toxic and otherwise, is crucial for the stability of healthy ecosystems. Research in my laboratory includes studies on the physiology, ecology and biochemistry of microorganisms engaged in various forms of anaerobic metabolism including exploratory work with electrode reducing bacteria. An incoming graduate student could pursue any one of several ongoing projects. These include investigations on the reductive dechlorination of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlorobenzenes and chlorinated ethenes, the anaerobic oxidation of chlorinated solvents, and the biodegradation of petroleum when concurrent with halogenated organic compounds. Other projects are focused on the halogenation and dehalogenation of chlorinated hydroquinone metabolites produced by basidiomycete fungi as part of a natural biogeochemical chlorine cycle. All of the above research includes chemical analysis of degradation products, isolation and characterization of microorganisms, biochemical analysis and the molecular monitoring of bacterial communities (e.g. by restriction fragment length, sequencing or denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis analysis of amplified 16S rDNA). A proteomic and enzymological approach is planned for the study of dehalogenases. In addition to collaboration with other MUSC faculty, we are working with researchers from the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (Center of Marine Biotechnology), the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, and SINTEF of Norway. These collaborations offer the student extended educational opportunities. Students are welcome to join my laboratory and pursue any of these challenging areas of research. Dr. May is also an acting partner in MFC Technologies LLC.

Recent Publications | Additional Publications

Metagenome-Assembled Genome Sequences of Acetobacterium sp. Strain MES1 and Desulfovibrio sp. Strain MES5 from a Cathode-Associated Acetogenic Microbial Community.
Ross DE, Marshall CW, May HD, Norman RS.
Genome Announc. 2017 Sep 7;5(36). pii: e00938-17. doi: 10.1128/genomeA.00938-17.

Metabolic Reconstruction and Modeling Microbial Electrosynthesis.
Marshall CW, Ross DE, Handley KM, Weisenhorn PB, Edirisinghe JN, Henry CS, Gilbert JA, May HD, Norman RS.
Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 21;7(1):8391. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-08877-z.

Mesocosm Studies on the Efficacy of Bioamended Activated Carbon for Treating PCB-Impacted Sediment.
Payne RB, Ghosh U, May HD, Marshall CW, Sowers KR.
Environ Sci Technol. 2017 Sep 19;51(18):10691-10699. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.7b01935. Epub 2017 Aug 30.

Energy Efficiency and Productivity Enhancement of Microbial Electrosynthesis of Acetate.
LaBelle EV, May HD.
Front Microbiol. 2017 May 3;8:756. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.00756. eCollection 2017.

The bioelectrosynthesis of acetate.
May HD, Evans PJ, LaBelle EV.
Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2016 Dec;42:225-233. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2016.09.004. Epub 2016 Oct 13. Review.


Research Support

DOD/ONR                                               May (PI)                                                2015 – 2018
Liquid Hydrocarbon Production with the Electrobiome Platform
The objectives of this project are to 1) increase the electrosynthetic production of acetate; 2) improve the growth rate and hydrocarbon yield by the algal culture; and 3) test the best practices discovered in objectives 1 and 2 in an integrated 2-stage bioreactor.

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