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Jennifer DeBruyn, Ph.D.

Dr. Jennifer DeBruyn, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science.


  • Associate Professor


  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Dr. Jennifer DeBruyn, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science. She is a microbial ecologist, studying how microbes interact with each other and their environments to perform critical functions for their ecosystems.

Having grown up on a field research station in northwest Ontario, environmental science has always been her primary interest. As a PhD student, she worked on pollutant remediation in sediments. As a faculty member in BESS, her main research areas are decomposition and biodegradation in both agricultural and natural ecosystems. One of her focus areas is the biodegradation of agricultural plastics, where she and her students investigate impacts of biodegradable plastics on soil health and study microbes that can break down plastics. They are answering questions that are critical to policy questions related to use of biodegradable plastics in agriculture.

Relevant Publications:

Mbuthia, L. W., Acosta-Martínez, V., DeBruyn, J., Schaeffer, S., Tyler, D., Odoi, E., … Eash, N. (2015). Long term tillage, cover crop, and fertilization effects on microbial community structure, activity: Implications for soil quality. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 89, 24–34. 

DeBruyn, J. M., Leigh-Bell, J. A., McKay, R. M. L., Bourbonniere, R. A., & Wilhelm, S. W. (2004). Microbial Distributions and the Impact of Phosphorus on Bacterial Activity in Lake Erie. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 30(1), 166–183. 

DeBruyn, J. M., & Sayler, G. S. (2009). Microbial Community Structure and Biodegradation Activity of Particle-Associated Bacteria in a Coal Tar Contaminated Creek. Environmental Science & Technology, 43(9), 3047–3053. 

Ashworth, A. J., DeBruyn, J. M., Allen, F. L., Radosevich, M., & Owens, P. R. (2017). Microbial community structure is affected by cropping sequences and poultry litter under long-term no-tillage. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 114, 210–219. 

Buchanan, J. R., Perez, B. N., & DeBruyn, J. M. (2015). Engineered Strategy to Remediate Trace Organic Contaminants using Recirculating Packed-Bed Media Biofilters at Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Systems. Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation, 2015(11), 711–718.

Contact Info:

(865) 974-7277

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