Welcome to the Newton Lab at UW-Milwaukee

The organisms that we cannot see, the microorganisms, dominate biodiversity on Earth.  Despite the sheer magnitude of these organisms, we know comparatively little about the diversity of microbes in most environments, how those microbes interact with their environment and each other, or how human activities alter microbial assemblages.

In the Newton lab, we study the microbial ecology of aquatic ecosystems. In particular, we focus on how human activities influence the structure and activity of microbial communities. We use a combination of field, laboratory, and computational approaches to explore the distribution and properties of microorganisms across a range of aquatic systems, including: inland lakes, wastewaters, groundwater, and aquaculture systems.  In each of these systems, we investigate both microbial communities and the individuals or populations that make up those communities.  Much of our work relies upon molecular and genomic techniques to gain access to the diversity of organisms present.

Check out the research page to find out more about our work.


McClary-Gutierrez, Z. Driscoll, C. Nenn, & R.J. Newton. 2021. Human fecal contamination corresponds to changes in the freshwater bacterial communities of a large river basin. Microbiology Spectrum 9(2):e01200-21. Link

LaMartina, E.L., A.A. Mohaimani, & R.J. Newton. 2021. Urban wastewater bacterial communities assemble into seasonal steady states. Microbiome 9(1): 1-13. Link

Feng, S., A. Roguet, J.S. McClary-Gutierrez, R.J. Newton, N. Kloczko, J.G. Meiman, S.L. McLellan. 2021. Evaluation of sampling, analysis, and normalization methods for SARS-CoV-2 concentrations in wastewater to assess COVID-19 burdens in Wisconsin communities. ACS ES&T Water 1(8):1955-1965. Link

Wang, C., Y. Yang, B. Yang, H. Lin, T.R. Miller, R.J. Newton, & L. Guo. 2021. Relationship between alkaline phosphatase activities and phosphorus dynamics in a eutrophic coastal lagoon in Lake Michigan. Science of the Total Environment. 787: 147681. Link

Deveneau, N.E., R.J. Newton, A. Agrawal, C.L. Kinman, G. Wu, Z. Lei, & S.L. Fancis. 2021. Shifts in vaginal bacterial community composition are associated with vaginal mesh exposure. Online Early. Link

Kimbell, L.K., E.L. LaMartina, A.D. Kappell, J. Huo, Y. Wang, R.J. Newton, & P.J. McNamara. 2021. Cast iron drinking water pipe biofilms support diverse microbial communities containing antibiotic resistance genes, metal resistance genes, and class 1 integrons. Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology 7:584-598. Link

Bivins, A., D. North, A. Ahmad, et al., 2020. Wastewater-based epidemiology: global collaborative to maximize contributions in the fight against COVID-19. Environmental Science & Technology 54: 7754-7757. Link

Jiang, M., H. Zhao, S.-W. Zhai, R.J. Newton, B. Shepherd, J. Tian, A.G. Lofald, S. Teh, F.P. Binkowski, & D.-F. Deng. 2020. Nutritional quality of different starches in feed fed to juvenile yellow perch, Perca flavescens. Aquaculture Nutrition. doi:10.1111/anu.13026. Link

Roguet, A., O.C. Esen, A.M. Eren, R.J. Newton, & S.L. McLellan. 2020. FORENSIC: an online platform for fecal source identification. mSystems 5(2):e00869-19. Link

Paver, S.F., R.J. Newton, & M.L. Coleman. 2020. Microbial communities of the Laurentian Great Lakes reflect connectivity and local biogeochemistry. Environmental Microbiology 22:433-446. Link

Newton, R.J. & J.S. McClary. 2019. The flux and impact of wastewater infrastructure microorganisms on human and ecosystem health. Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 57:145-150. doi: 10.1016.j.copbio.2019.03.015. Link

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science...”

Albert Einstein