Kateryna Zhalnina is a Ph.D. candidate in Microbiology at the University of Florida. She investigates the diversity of microbial communities of the different environments of Florida. Her research targets ecological problems caused by changes in microbial composition at the Agricultural Area of Everglades National Park. She is also pursuing research in the analysis of microbial populations in oil spill sites of the Gulf of Mexico. Since it is known that some ocean microorganisms can degrade oil very efficiently, these properties of microorganisms may assist in cleaning oil.
Prior to receiving the International Fulbright Science & Technology Award, Kateryna graduated from the Biology Department, Kharkov National University, Ukraine and received a Master’s degree in Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, focusing on Microbiology. Subsequent to the completion of her degree, she worked at the Laboratory of Soil Microbiology in O.N. Sokolovskiy National Scientific Center of Soil Science and Agrochemistry Research in Ukraine. During this time her research focused on the impact of microorganisms on soil fertility and the development of methodology using biological parameters to evaluate environmental factors, such as man-caused pollutions, irrigation, and the application of mineral fertilizers that affect agroecosystems.