Dr. Gary W. Childers


Professor of Biological Sciences, Graduate Coordinator


Dr. Gary ChildersOur current lab is active in a variety of environmental projects that involve classical culturable and molecular techniques to determine bacterial source tracking (BST) for fecal pollution in the various rivers and tributaries draining into the northern portion of the Lake Pontchartrain drainage basin (LPDB). We have monitoring sites dating as far back as 1980 on the Tangipahoa River alone. The molecular techniques including PCR-DGGE based analysis, fluorescent in situ hybridization probes (FISH), 16S rDNA clonal library generation are used to sort out species-specific bacterial indicators. More recently, we have set up a comprehensive anaerobic laboratory including gas manifolds and anaerobic incubators to study various bacterial and archaea anaerobes that are involved in the transformation of organic compounds to CO2, H20 and CH4. Again our study site includes the northern boundaries of the LPDB. This area is important because of the influence by a salt-water gradient from the east to the west and the influx of nutrients and fecal pollution from the north due to storm water runoff of agricultural and domestic sediments into the basin. Our overall goal is to elucidate specific anaerobic groups that might serve as ecological indicators of environmental health. Lastly our laboratory is working on isolating, enhancing, and characterizing the consortia of anaerobic groups of bacteria and archaea that are capable of sequestering and transforming C02 to CH4 in coal beds and oil deposits.

The laboratory currently employs two full time research associates (RA) including one RA that is jointly shared by SLU and the University of Illinois Urbana Champagne (UIUC), four graduate assistants and several undergraduate student workers.



B.S. Southeastern Louisiana University, 1966 M.S. Mississippi State University, 1973 Ph.D. Mississippi State University, 1976



Graduate Coordinator and Professor of Biological Sciences, Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, LA. 2003 - Present.

Head of the Department of Biological Sciences and Horticulture, and Professor of Biological Sciences, Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, LA. 1982 - 1997.

Associate Professor of Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, LA. 1982-1989.

Assistant Professor of Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, LA. 1980 - 1982.

Assistant Professor of Microbiology, Microbiology Department, Mississippi State University. 1976-1980.

Director of Research Microbiology, Mississippi State Chemical Lab, Mississippi State University. 1978 - 1980.

Instructor of Food Microbiology, Microbiology Department, Mississippi State University. 1975 - 1976.

Chief Microbiologist, Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory, Mississippi State University. 1969 - 1976.

Microbiologist, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Ocean Springs, Mississippi. 1966 - 1969.



Member: Board of Directors of Tangipahoa Parish Mosquito Abatement District #1 2002-present.

Member: American Society for Microbiology

Member: Louisiana Academy of Sciences

Member: Sigma Xi

Member: South Central Branch ASM

Member: Alternate to LUMCON Board of Directors, 1986-1995

Member: Board of Directors, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation,1989-92



Awarded $150,000. DOE Sequestration and Bioconversion of Carbon Dioxide to Methane, July-June 30, 2003-2005 ***Partnership with Private industry MeCOM and DOE.

Awarded $393,000. USGS, Bacterial Source Tracking and nutrient runoff in LPB drainage Area. October 2003-September 2005.

Awarded $50,000, Jefferson Parish Department of Environ. Affairs. Assessment of Microbial source Tracking in Coastal Jefferson Parish. Nov. 2002-September 2003.

Awarded $255,360. NOAA, Assessment of Ag. & Domestic Runoff on the Microbial ecosystem in LPBD Basin, Nov. Oct 2004

Awarded EPAII (Howard) $ 256,000. Contribution of Microbes and their activity to carbon, nitrogen and sulfur cycling in the LPBD Ecosystem, 2003-2005.



Dowty, R. A., G. P. Shaffer, M. W. Hester, G. W. Childers, F. M. Campo, and M.C. Greene. 2001. Phytoremediation of small-scale oil spills in fresh marsh environments: A mesocosm simulation. Marine Environmental Research 52: 195-211.

Wong, T. Y., K. Bancroft, H. Pei, G.W. Childers. 1995. Diauxic growth of Azotobacter vinelandli on galactose and glucose: regulation of glucose transport by another hexose. Appl. and Environ. Microbiol. 61(2):430-433.

Higginbotham, N., Bancroft, K., and G. W. Childers. 1991. Evaluation of the microbiological water quality of the Tickfaw River, a designated natural and scenic stream in Southeastern Louisiana. Proc. LA. Acad. Sci. 54:46-54.

Bancroft, K., E. T. Nelson, and G. W. Childers. 1989. Coliform detection in small, non-chlorinated water distribution systems: A comparison of the presence- absence and membrane filtration techniques. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 51 (2):507-510.

Bancroft, K., E. T. Nelson, and G. W. Childers, 1988. Feasibility of using chitosan as a flocculant in the removal of suspended matter from oxidation pond effluent. Proc. La. Acad. Sci. 51:36-47.

Nelson, E. T., L. S. Janes, K. Bancroft, and G. W. Childers. 1988. Water quality of the Tangipahoa River and its impact on recreational uses. Journal La. Environ. Prof. Assoc. 4(4): 43-46. Page 3 of 4 pages

Bancroft, K., E. T. Nejson, and G. W. Childers. 1988 The microbiological and chemical quality of Lake Maurepas. Journ. La. Environ. Prof. Assoc. 4(4):47-52.

Childers, G. W., K. Bancroft and E. T. Nelson. 1984. Preliminary data on water qua~ity in Lake Maurepas: I. Physical and chemical parameters. The La. Environ. Prof. Assoc. 1(1 ):56-65.

Childers, G. W., K. Bancroft, E. T. Nelson and 0. M. Henitz. 1984. Preliminary data on water quality in Lake Maurepas: II. Microbial parameters. The La. Environ. Prof. 1(1):66-78.

Childers, G. W., G.M. Ricks, A. Amen and E. T. Nelson. 1983. The effects of pentachlorophenol contamination of simulated wetland environments. In: Varnell, R. J. (ed.) Water Quality and Wetland Management Conference Proceedings. New Orleans, LA, August 4-5,1983. pp.357-382.

Coats, K. St. Cyr, E. T. Nelson and G. W. Childers. 1983. A study of the effects of pentachlorophenol on axenic microbial cultures. In: Varnell, R. J. (ed.) Water Quality and Wetland Management Conference Proceedings. New Orleans, LA, August 4-5,1983. pp.383-411.

Childers, G. W., G. Ricks and E. Nelson. 1983. Enhancement of opportunistic microorganisms due to pentachlorophenol in a controlled laboratory system. Dev. Ind. Microbiol. 25:537-546.

Nelson, E., A. Ameri, K. St. Cyr Coats, and G. Childers. 1983. Physical, chemical, and microbial effects of pentachlorophenol in a microcosm study. Dev. Ind. Microbiol. 25:547-555.

Childers, G. W., R. W. Landers and L. R. Brown. 1982. Characterization of the microbial content of superficial sediments in the region of petroleum production platforms in the central Gulf of Mexico. Proceedings of International Symposium IXTOC-i, Mexico City, June 2-5,1981.

Childers, G. W., R. W. Landers, H. G. Aranha, A. H. Ardahl, M. S. Randolph and L. R. Brown. 1981. Effect of crude oil on microbial processes in marine sediments. 1981 Oil Spill Conference, EPA, API, USSCG, Atlanta, Georgia. March 3-5,1981.

Brown, L. R. and G. W. Childers, 1978. Rapid estimation of total bacterial counts in ground beef by measurement of oxidation-reduction potential. Mechanizing Microbiology. C. H. Thomas Publisher, pp.87-103.

Brown, L. R., G. W. Childers and D. D. Vaishnav. 1975. Effects of mirex and related compounds on estuarine microorganisms. Dev. Ind. Microbiol. L6:268. Vitae, Gary W. Chi!ders March 6,1996 Page 4 of 4 pages

Brown, L. R., G. W. Childers and D. D. Vaishnav. 1974. Effects of carbofuran and related compounds on estuarine microorganisms. 0ev. md. Microbiol. 17:311.

Cook, D. W. and G. W. Childers. 1970. Relationship between pollution indicator organisms and salinity of Mississippi estuarine water. Pro. Miss. Water Resources Con. pp.181-191.

Cook, D. W. and G. W. Childers. 1968. Depuration of Biloxi Bay oysters by relaying. Proceedings of the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Comm., pp.34-51.


USGS sponsored collaboration with UIUC that is focused on elucidating the anaerobic nutrient cycling pathways in the lake as well as the key microbial components of these pathways. This anaerobic nutrient cycling study relies on both a classical and molecular approach. Goal is to elucidate anaerobic BST for determining the environmental health of the LPDB.

Specific Collaborators for this Project:
Dr. Rod Mackie (UIUC) Molecular Ecology
Dr. Carl Cernigla (NCTR-Jefferson Ark) Micro-array Technology