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Photo of Kate Field in front of Memorial Union

Katharine G. Field

Director, Bioresource Research Program
Department of Microbiology

Katharine G. Field

Director, Bioresource Research Program
Department of Microbiology


My laboratory addresses fundamental questions in environmental microbiology and microbial evolution. Projects are all related to examining the effects of microbial contamination in water, and range from marker and technology development and validation to studying antibiotic resistant genes and host-fecal bacteria coevolution. To date, investigators have concentrated on identifying human and agricultural contamination. In many areas, however, significant contamination may come from overlooked sources: wild animals and birds. To investigate this problem and provide new tools, we developed and published two new avian assays: GFC, based on Catellicoccus, which targets fecal bacteria found in gulls, and GFD, based on Helicobacter, which targets avian fecal bacteria found in gulls, ducks, geese, and chickens. A focus of the lab is identifying other frequently overlooked sources of contamination such as rodents, and estimating their impact and associated health risk.

Research Interests

  • Novel applications of molecular techniques to water quality problems caused by microbial contamination
  • Host-specific and geographic distribution of fecal bacteria
  • Persistence and fate of microbiological contaminants in water, including anaerobes, indicators, antibiotic resistance genes and pathogens



Ph.D, University of Oregon

College strategic research areas

Biomedical Science


  • Grzyb, K., Hartman, B.D. and Field, K.G. 2018. Determining essential components of a college-level bioenergy curriculum using the Delphi Technique. J. of Sustainability Educ. Special Issue: Arts, Social Change, and a Vision for Sustainability.
  • Grzyb, K., Snyder, W., and Field, K.G. 2018. Learning to Write Like a Scientist: A Writing-Intensive Course for Microbiology/Health Science Students. J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. 19(1).
  • Brooks, L.E. and Field, K.G. 2017. Global model fitting to compare survival curves for fecal indicator bacteria and ruminant-associated genetic markers. J. Appl Microbiol. 2017 Mar 27. doi: 10.1111/jam.13454. PMID:28345274Brooks, L. and Field, K.G. 2016. Bayesian meta-analysis to synthesize decay rate estimates for common fecal indicator bacteria. Water Research 104:262-271.
  • Shanks, O., Kelty, R., Oshiro, R., Haugland, T.M., Brooks, L., Field, K.G., and Sivaganesan, M. 2016. Data acceptance criteria for standardized human-associated fecal source identification quantitative real-time PCR methods. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 82:2773-2782.Green, H.C., Haugland, R.A., Varma, M., Millen, H.T., Borchardt, M.A., Field, K.G., Walters, W.A., Knight, R., Sivaganesan, M., Kelty, C.A., and Shanks, O.C. 2014. Improved HF 183 quantitative real-time PCR assay for characterization of human fecal pollution in ambient surface water samples. Appl Environ Microbiol 80(10):3086-94.
  • Wang, D., Famleitner, A.H., Field, K.G., Green, H.C., Shanks, O.C. and Boehm, A.B. 2013. Enterococcus and Escherichia coli fecal source apportionment with microbial source tracking genetic markers--is it feasible? Water Research 47(18):6849-61.
  • Green, H.C. and Field, K.G. 2012. Sensitive detection of sample interference in environmental qPCR. Water Research 46(10):3251-60.Green, H.C., Dick, L. K., Gilpin, B., Samadpour, M., and Field, K.G. 2012. Genetic markers for rapid PCR-based Identification of gull, Canada goose, duck, and chicken fecal contamination in water. Appl Environ Microbiol. 78: 503-510.
  • Green, H.C., Shanks, O.C., Sivaganesan, M., Haugland, R.A., and Field, K.G. 2011. Extended survival of human fecal Baceroides in Marine Water. Environ Microbiol 13: 3235-3249.Walters, S.P. and Field, K.G. 2009.
  • Survival and persistence of human and ruminant-specific fecal Bacteroidales in freshwater mesocosms. Environ Microbiol 11:1410-21.
  • Field, K. G., and Samadpour, M. 2007. Fecal source tracking, the indicator paradigm, and managing water quality. Water Research 41: 3517-3538.
  • Walters, S.P., V.P. Gannon, and Field, K.G. 2007. Detection of Bacteroidales fecal indicators and the zoonotic pathogens E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Campylobacter in river water. Environ Sci Technol 41: 1856-1852.
  • Shanks, O.C., C. Nietch, M.T. Simonich, M. Younger, D. Reynolds and Field, K.G. 2006. Basin-wide analysis of the dynamics of fecal contamination and fecal source identification in Tillamook Bay, Oregon. Appl Environ Microbiol 72: 5537-5546.
  • Walters, S.P. and Field, K.G. 2006. Persistence and growth of fecal Bacteroidales assessed by bromodeoxyuridine immunocapture. Appl Environ Microbiol 72:4532-4539.