Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2018

Semester of Degree


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in Chemistry



Major Professor

Christopher Nomura

Steering Committee Member

Christopher Nomura

Steering Committee Member

Lee Newman

Steering Committee Member

Gregory Boyer


The negative impacts caused by traditional plastics to natural ecosystems are becoming increasingly drastic. One solution to this issue is greater implementation of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), which are biodegradable plastics naturally produced by bacteria. The primary objective of this work was to exemplify and add to the body of research being conducted to further progress the PHA industry as a whole. Economic feasibility is a major barrier preventing broader usage of PHAs, therefore a study was performed to create a novel method for engineering Halomonas bacteria, a highly attractive genus for its potential in lowering PHA production costs. To ensure environmental compatibility, research was conducted to investigate the natural biodegradation of PHA polymers and determine how some naturally present microorganisms metabolize components of these materials. The insights provided by these studies will further promote our ability to expand PHA technologies while maintaining a focus on environmental sustainability.