"Environment" research area

Program Staff

Jeff Standish, Ph.D.

Industry Liaison
The BioTechnology Institute, Suite 240 B, 1479 Gortner Avenue Suite 140 St. Paul, MN 55108-6106

Dr. Jeff Standish is the Industry Liaison for MnDRIVE Environment. Jeff comes to us from the Institute on the Environment where he served for several years as the Manager of Corporate Sustainability. Prior to his work with IonE, Jeff was the Assistant Director of Strategy and Training for the Flavor Research and Education Center in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences. Jeff’s background is grounded in research and project management, within both academia and the private sector. His work prior to joining the UMN community, and certainly since, has focused on building research connections through public/private partnerships with a variety of stakeholders. We are excited to add Jeff's expertise and capacity to the MnDRIVE team.

Jeff and his wife Cara Santelli keep active with their two children Kai and Kieran and their 4-legged family member Ranger exploring all that St. Paul has to offer. Although he considers himself a New Englander at heart, Jeff has settled into Minnesota and enjoys hockey, camping, skiing and heading “up to da lake” with the warmer weather. 

Michael Winikoff

Communications Director
The BioTechnology Institute, Suite 240, 1479 Gortner Avenue Suite 140 St. Paul, MN 55108-6106
(612) 414-0051

Michael Winikoff is the Communications Director for the MnDRIVE initiative Advancing Industry, Conserving our Environment and the BioTechnology Institute, where he oversees print and digital media.


Michel J. Sadowsky, Ph.D.

Michael J. Sadowsky
MnDRIVE Co-Director
The BioTechnology Institute, Suite 240, 1479 Gortner Avenue Suite 140 St. Paul, MN 55108-6106
(612) 624-2706

Distinguished McKnight Professor Michael Sadowsky, a fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Microbiology, is internationally known and respected for his research work in the area of environmental microbiology. Dr. Sadowsky serves as Director of the University's BioTechnology Institute. He has published more than 100 original articles, and his work is widely cited by researchers in several scientific disciplines.

Paige Novak, Ph.D.

Paige Novak
MnDRIVE Co-Director
The BioTechnology Institute, Suite 240, 1479 Gortner Avenue Suite 140 St. Paul, MN 55108-6106
(612) 626-9846

Dr. Novak is a professor of Civil Engineering and serves on the graduate faculty in the department of Water Resources Science. Her research focuses on the biological transformation of hazardous substances in sediment, groundwater, and wastewater. She is particularly interested in how external environmental factors influence the biodegradation of these substances. Dr. Novak works both in the laboratory and in the field, trying to understand the interactions between microorganisms and environmental conditions. Her field work has focused on implementing remediation technologies that alter environmental conditions and as a result, stimulate beneficial biological activity.


Sebastian Behrens Ph.D.

Research interests include microbial processes for bioremediation of (in)organic environmental contaminants (mining wastes, agriculture runoff) and the recovery of valuable resources from municipal/industrial wastes. His area of research is situated at the interface of Molecular Microbial Ecology, Geomicrobiology, and Environmental Biotechnology. In the lab we use classical microbiology and state-of-the-art molecular tools to identify and quantify the ‘lifestyle’ of environmental microorganisms. Through comprehensive ecosystem-level analyses of geochemical parameters, microbial community composition, and in situ functions at various spatial and temporal scales we obtain insights into key microbial-mediated transformation processes in various environments and engineered bioprocess systems.

Satoshi Ishii Ph.D.

Research focused on environmental microbiology and biotechnology, with specific research interests in bioremediation of inorganic nutrients, removal and recovery of heavy metals, and assessing the risks of environmental pathogens.

Mikael Elias Ph.D.

Mikael Elias is interested in evolution and molecular interactions – how biomolecules fulfill their roles and how they evolve towards new functions. In particular, Elias studies microbial enzymes and systems that have the potential to address industrial needs or that may be useful for bio-remediation. The Lab is interested in the cellular phosphate uptake mechanism. Elias also focuses on a bacterial communication system dubbed quorum sensing, mediated by signaling molecules such as acyl homoserine lactones. 

Cara Santelli Ph.D.

Santelli’s research examines the impact of microbial activity on geological processes: mineral formation and alteration, metal redox transformations, weathering processes, environmental geochemistry, and remediation of contaminated environments.