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Larry McKay
Larry McKay

KNOXVILLE — Larry McKay, head of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s earth and planetary sciences department, will lead this week’s College of Arts and Sciences Pregame Faculty Showcase. The presentation focuses on McKay’s research of the movement of viruses and bacteria in groundwater and streams.

McKay’s presentation, “Germs and Geology: Emerging Issues in Waterborne Pathogen Research,” will begin at 5 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 7, in the University Center ballroom on UT’s campus.

McKay’s research began in 1993 with experimental soil studies at Oak Ridge National Laboratory using viruses that infect bacteria.

His research expanded in 2002 through a collaboration with Alice Layton of UT’s Center for Environmental Biotechnology and Randy Gentry of UT’s civil and environmental engineering department. Their research found that viruses are common in wells and springs in East Tennessee, and they have helped develop better methods to identify sources of contamination.

McKay and his team are currently working with researchers from Columbia University and the University of North Carolina to study wells, geology and the rate of disease in rural Bangladesh.

McKay teaches courses in environmental geology, hydrogeology and environmental contamination. At UT he has helped build a highly successful research and teaching program in hydrogeology. He is the Water Resources group leader for the UT Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment (ISSE), and has served on a variety of national and international panels including the Canadian Water Network’s Pathogens-In-Groundwater Consortium.

McKay has worked closely with the UT College of Social Work to help establish a Neighborhood Environmental College and an Environmental Health and Justice Collaborative, which carry out research and provide community education for residents affected by industrial contamination in the Chattanooga Creek area of southeast Tennessee, where he has been involved in the research on coal tar contaminants.

His research interests include investigations of the properties of fractured clay-rich soils, cleanup of contaminated industrial or defense sites and occurrence of pathogenic microorganisms in the hydrologic environment.

He has won numerous awards for academic excellence in research and has received in excess of $2.5 million in research grants in the past 10 years from agencies including the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Defense, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Science Foundation.

For 20 years, the Pregame Faculty Showcase has introduced football fans to some of UT Knoxville’s most exceptional faculty members.

Each showcase is a 30-minute presentation followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer session. Free and open to the public, the presentations are held two hours before kickoff in the University Center Ballroom.

The final showcase of this season will take place on Nov. 21. Michael Lofaro, professor of English, will present “James Agee at 100: A Centennial Celebration.”

The showcases will be recorded and the webcast archive will be posted online at

The showcases are sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, WUOT 91.9 FM, the UT Alumni Association, the UT Office of Alumni Affairs and the UT Athletics Program.

C O N T A C T :

Beth Gladden, (865-974-9008,