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Lee Lee

Professor, Biology

Science Hall 108
BS, National Taiwan University (Taiwan)
MS, Hunter College
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Dr. Lee H. Lee, professor of Biology & Molecular Biology, is a microbiologist specialized in Molecular Microbiology, Medical Microbiology and Environmental Microbiology. I teach undergraduate biology major courses including Microbiology (BIOL 350), Independent Study (BIOL 418), Externship in Biological Research (BIOL 409) and Medical Microbiology (BIOL 450); General Education Requirement courses including Biology of Human Life (BIOL 110); graduate courses including Topics in Microbiology (BIOL 550), Microbial Physiology (BIOL 554) and Introduction to Biological Research (BIOL 599)and Master's Thesis (BIOL698). I am a co-op adviser.

I have been awarded the University Distinguished Teacher Award and Excellence In Education Award. I am a Margaret and Herman Sokol Faculty Fellow as well as Judy and Josh Weston and Family Mentor Faculty Fellow. I have served as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) / National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) R01 Reviewer.

My research projects are in different areas of medical and environmental microbiology using micro and molecular techniques: (1) Using green tea polyphenols (EGCG, EGCG-S) as novel approach to develop antiviral and antibacterial agents; (2) Monitoring the water quality using bacterial indicators and micro source tracking; (3) Studying food safety and food handling practices of ready-to-eat foods; (4) Using microorganisms as environmental indicators to study heavy metal contamination; (5) Studying the interaction of cyanophages, cyanobacteria and cyanobacteria blooms. I have collaborated with scientists in different fields in the USA and globally. My students and I have published 59 peer-reviewed articles and more than 400 abstracts in National and Regional conferences. All my research projects involve graduate and undergraduate students. Many of them have co-authored the papers and abstracts with me.


Molecular Microbiology
Medical Microbiology
Environmental Microbiology
Heavy metal effects on cyanobacteria


Office Hours


2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Research Projects

Modified Green Tea Polyphenols (EGCG and EGCG-stearate) as a s Novel Approach for an Antibacterial agent

Green tea polyphenols (GTPs) are potent antioxidants that also possess chemo preventive, anti-apoptotic, anti-inflammatory activities, and most recently, anti-microbial properties. We have used the modified green tea polyphenols (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate-stearate (EGCG-S) and (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG)- palmitate (EGCG-P) as novel approaches to control or prevent bacterial and viral infection. Specifically, our focus is on preventing bacterial infections by studying their inhibitory effect on bacterial growth, biofilm formation; endospore formation/germination and further combating the antibiotic resistant bacteria. We also explored using EGCG-P as an organic food preservative and prevent bacterial contamination in food.

Detection, Identification of Harmful Cyanobacterial Blooms in New Jersey Freshwater Ecosystems

Many New Jersey waterbodies are susceptible to harmful algal blooms. Freshwater harmful algal blooms (FHAB) deteriorate water quality and reduce available water resources for drinking and irrigation water supplies in New Jersey. This project is to develop detection and identification methods to rapidly control cyanobacteria populations which cause harmful algal blooms. This will prevent negative ecological, economic, and health impacts causing by harmful algal blooms in New Jersey waters. Samples will be collected from area of New Jersey waters with and without FHAB, DNA will be extracted; primers will be designed to carry out PCR and qPCR-based assays to accurately and rapidly identify cyanobacteria and cyanotoxin.
DNA will be deep sequenced using NGS to obtain both qualitatively and quantitatively species are resident in the area. The samples will also be observed under microscopic analysis for quantitative identification and flow cytometry study for complexity of the microbial community.

Using Microorganisms as Environmental Indicators to Study Heavy Metal Contamination

Studies on the effect of many heavy metals on the growth of Anacystis nidulans and Chlamydomonas have carried out. Many heavy metals such as
Mercury, Cadmium, Cobalt, Copper, Lead and Aluminum etc. have been used in this study. The chelating agent EDTA was also monitored to study
its effect on the toxicity of these heavy metals to A. nidulans and Chlamydomonas cells. Light microscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy studies
have shown changes in the morphology. Fluorometer study is also used as a mean of determining photosynthetic efficiency under stressed conditions.

Molecular Cloning and Sequence Analysis of Cyanophage AS-1

Anacystis nidulans is a freshwater unicellular cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that frequently causes algal blooms. These blooms pose a threat to
aquatic ecosystems, causing oxygen depletion and eutrophication in freshwater lakes. No satisfactory means for their prediction or prevention is
currently available. It has been suggested that cyanophage (cyanobacteria virus) is a regulatory agent and may be responsible for the disappearance
of algal blooms. Cyanophage AS-1 infects Anacystis nidulans and Synechoccus cedrorum (another unicellular cyanobacteria). The effects of
Clorox and Parvosol on AS-1 were studied and the results suggested that AS-1 is very resistant to both disinfectants. This establishes the possibility
of using this virus as an environmental probe. A clone library of AS-1 DNA has been created and many inserts have been characterized and
sequenced. These sequences were sent to GenBank to check for homology. We intend to work on all the inserts and sequence them. Specific
probes have be designed and used for the identification of AS-1.

Isolation of Novel Bacteria Associated with Marine Algae and Screening for Possible Antibiotics/ Antiviral Substances

Increasing resistance to antibiotics by bacteria has become a major problem for the health and pharmaceutical industry. Since seaweed have shown
effectiveness as a source of antibacterial and antiviral substances, we have begun to explore the novel bacteria which inhabit the surface of these plants
(epiphytic). We hope to isolate and purify new antimicrobial substances produced by novel marine bacteria. The process of screening the isolated
bacterial colonies for the production of active substances is very time consuming, labor intensive and can be best be done with student participation.
For the past year, we have begun this process and the results are beginning to be seen in terms of identifying the bacterial cultures which show promise.