Raina Margaret Maier

Raina Margaret Maier

Professor, Environmental Science
Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences
Professor, Pharmacology and Toxicology
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 621-7231

Research Interest

Raina M Maier, PhD, is a Professor of Environmental Microbiology in the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science and Director of the University of Arizona NIEHS Superfund Research Program. She also serves as Director of the University of Arizona Center for Environmentally Sustainable Mining and as Deputy Director of the TRIF Water Sustainability Program. Dr. Maier is internationally known for her work on microbial surfactants (biosurfactants) including discovery of a new class of biosurfactants and of novel applications for these unique materials in remediation and green technologies. She is also recognized for her work on the relationships between microbial diversity and ecosystem function in oligotrophic environments such as carbonate caves, the Atacama desert, and mine tailings. Dr. Maier has published over 100 original research papers, authored 23 book chapters, and holds a patent on the use of biosurfactants to control zoosporic plant pathogens. She is the lead author on the textbook “Environmental Microbiology” currently in its second edition.Dr. Maier emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach to her work and has served as PI or co-PI on several large granting efforts including the UA NIEHS Superfund Research Program, the UA NSF Kartchner Caverns Microbial Observatory, and the UA NSF Collaborative Research in Chemistry grant on biosurfactants.


Monica D. Ramirez-Andreotta, ., Mark L. Brusseau, ., Paloma Beamer, ., & Raina M. Maier, . (2013). Home gardening near a mining site in an arsenic-endemic region of Arizona: Assessing arsenic exposure dose and risk via ingestion of home garden vegetables, soils, and water. Science of the Total Environment, 454-455, 373-382.
BIO5 Collaborators
Paloma Beamer, Raina Margaret Maier
Hogan, D. E., Curry, J. E., Pemberton, J. E., & Maier, R. M. (2017). Rhamnolipid biosurfactant complexation of rare earth elements. JOURNAL OF HAZARDOUS MATERIALS, 340, 171-178.
BIO5 Collaborators
Joan E Curry, Raina Margaret Maier
Curry, J., Baughman, K. F., Maier, R. M., Norris, T. A., Beam, B. M., Mudalige, A., Pemberton, J. E., & Curry, J. E. (2010). Evaporative deposition patterns of bacteria from a sessile drop: effect of changes in surface wettability due to exposure to a laboratory atmosphere. Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids, 26(10).
BIO5 Collaborators
Joan E Curry, Raina Margaret Maier

Evaporative deposition from a sessile drop is a simple and appealing way to deposit materials on a surface. In this work, we deposit living, motile colloidal particles (bacteria) on mica from drops of aqueous solution. We show for the first time that it is possible to produce a continuous variation in the deposition pattern from ring deposits to cellular pattern deposits by incremental changes in surface wettability which we achieve by timed exposure of the mica surface to the atmosphere. We show that it is possible to change the contact angle of the drop from less than 5 degrees to near 20 degrees by choice of atmospheric exposure time. This controls the extent of drop spreading, which in turn determines the architecture of the deposition pattern.

Stein, M. M., Hrusch, C. L., Gozdz, J., Igartua, C., Pivniouk, V., Murray, S. E., Ledford, J. G., Marques dos Santos, M., Anderson, R. L., Metwali, N., Neilson, J. W., Maier, R. M., Gilbert, J. A., Holbreich, M., Thorne, P. S., Martinez, F. D., von Mutius, E., Vercelli, D., Ober, C., & Sperling, A. I. (2016). Innate Immunity and Asthma Risk in Amish and Hutterite Farm Children. The New England journal of medicine, 375(5), 411-21.
BIO5 Collaborators
Julie Ledford, Raina Margaret Maier, Fernando Martinez

The Amish and Hutterites are U.S. agricultural populations whose lifestyles are remarkably similar in many respects but whose farming practices, in particular, are distinct; the former follow traditional farming practices whereas the latter use industrialized farming practices. The populations also show striking disparities in the prevalence of asthma, and little is known about the immune responses underlying these disparities.

Legatzki, A., Ortiz, M., Neilson, J. W., Casavant, R. R., Palmer, M. W., Rasmussen, C., Pryor, B. M., III, L. P., & Maier, R. M. (2012). Factors Influencing Observed Variations in the Structure of Bacterial Communities On Calcite Formations in Kartchner Caverns, AZ, USA. Geomicrobiology Journal, 29(5), 422-434.


Kartchner Caverns is an oligotrophic subterranean environment that hosts a wide diversity of actively growing calcite speleothems (secondary mineral deposits). In a previous study, we demonstrated that bacterial communities extracted from these surfaces are quite complex and vary between formations. In the current study, we evaluated the influence of several environmental variables on the superficial bacterial community structure of 10 active formations located in close proximity to one another in a small room of Kartchner Caverns State Park, Arizona, USA. Physical (color, dimensions) and chemical (elemental profile and organic carbon concentration) properties, as well as the DGGE-based bacterial community structure of the formations were analyzed. While elemental concentration was found to vary among the formations, the differences in the community structure could not be correlated with concentrations of either organic carbon or any of the elements evaluated. In contrast, the locations of formations within a distinct region of the cave as well as the relative location of specific formations within a single room were found to have a significant influence on the bacterial community structure of the formations evaluated. Interestingly, Canonical Correspondence Analysis suggests an association between the observed drip pathways (drip lines) feeding the formations (as determined by the patterns of soda straws and small stalactites that reveal water flow patterns) and the bacterial community structure of the respective formations. The results presented here indicate that a broad range of formations fed by a diversity of drip sources must be sampled to fully characterize the community composition of bacteria present on the surfaces of calcite formations in carbonate caves. © 2012 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.