Gerardo U. Lopez

Assistant Professor and STEM Extension Specialist
(520) 834-2795
Dr. Lopez’s current research focuses on food safety, water quality and transmission of pathogens in indoor environments. The detection of viruses and bacteria in environmental water samples (lakes and rivers used for recreation, agriculture irrigation systems, potable distribution systems) and fresh produce such as leafy greens is critical to reducing the risk to humans from contact with fresh produce and contaminated water. Through the utilization of quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) molecular methods they detect pathogenic microorganisms such as viruses (Norovirus) and bacteria (Salmonella) in order to determine how contaminated various types of environmental waters are. They plan to expand detection methods by using droplet digital (ddPCR) a cutting edge detection platform for detection of pathogens in very small quantities. In addition, understanding the presence and transmission of microbial pathogens in long-term care facilities, outpatient clinics, hospitals, and other indoor environments such as offices and schools is essential in developing better hygenic strategies in reducing the risk of exposure to these dangerous viruses and bacteria. In this area of research, cultural methods are used in conjunction with molecular detection methods specific for each microorganism in order to compare viable but nonculturable organisms.