Joel E Kostka, Professor of Biology and Earth & Atmospheric Sciences in STEM outreach


Joel E. Kostka and his students visit fifth-grade students at Laurel Ridge Elementary School in Decatur for STEM outreach.  Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). 

Dr. Kostka went with graduate students Will A. Overholt, Boryoung Shin, and Xiaoxu Sun and undergraduate biology major Kyle Sexton. At Georgia Tech, one research focus in the Kostka lab is biodegradation of oil in the oceans, includingoil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. Kostka and his students study how marine microbes break down oil, how fast the breakdown occurs, and what factors affect the process. Their goal is to learn enough to direct the management and cleanup of contaminated systems, such as the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The beach they brought to Laurel Ridge resembled those sullied by the environmental disaster.

“I will do it again,” said Joel Kostka. “The kids were very perceptive. I learned that kids as young as those in fifth grade can really understand the oceans and the implications of oil spills. Those kids have a lot to offer.”

Excerpts from the article "Georgia Tech Researchers Bring Beach to Laurel Ridge Elementary School" by Scott Smith, Student Assistant, College of Sciences.