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Robert Rychert, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, Department of Biological Sciences

Year arrived at BSU: 1975
Mailing Address:
Department of Biology
Boise State University
Boise, ID 83725-1515

E-Mail Address:


  • B.S. Cornell University, Bacteriology (1965)
  • M.A. San Francisco State University, Biology (1968)
  • Ph.D. Utah State University, Microbial Ecology (1975)


For over 25 years Dr. Rychert has been teaching and conducting research in environmental microbiology at Boise State University. Prior to Boise State he worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Beecham Pharmaceuticals, Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, and the Cornell Dept. of Agronomy. He has received numerous grants and contracts from state and federal agencies, and from environmental engineering firms and other private sector entities. Funded research projects have included: biotechnology applications to water quality assessment; foliar feeding effects on phyllosphere microbial populations; effects of soil amendment on soil microbial populations and their biological activity; soil microbial functional diversity in cheatgrass and native plant-dominated communities; application of the Microtox system to Boise urban runoff; adenylate energy charge of rangeland soils; colicins of atypical E. coli from rangeland streams; effect of fluoride on soil acid phosphatase activity; isolation of the bacterial endophyte of Artemisia ludoviciana; biological impacts of geothermal wastewater discharge in the Boise River; determination of chlorophyll a in microbiotic crusts; bacteriophages in natural waters; toxicity testing using Tetrahymena pyriformis; and, toxicity testing using a recombinant E. coli. His publications include seminal research on nitrogen cycling in arid soils as part of the Desert Biome-International Biological program (IBP); and his research on microbiological water quality indicators is cited in Standard Methods. He has presented numerous papers on his research at regional, national, and international meetings. He served as chair of the Biology Dept. at Boise State for 6 years; and during his term as chair developed and initiated a unique graduate program in Raptor Biology and played an integral role in bringing the World Center for Birds of Prey to Boise. He was a research associate with the USDA-ARS, Northwest Watershed Research Center for 8 years. At the NWRC, Dr. Rychert collaborated with ARS scientists to gather microbiological data to develop grazing strategies that ameliorated microbiological water quality problems under different grazing regimes. His research demonstrated the importance of stream sediments as a reservoir of fecal indicator bacteria. He is a member of the American Society for Microbiology and a former board member of the Northwest Scientific Association. In his avocation as an orchardist, Dr. Rychert conducts research on the growth and use of Bacillus thuringiensis in the biological control of insect pests.

His current research interests also include aquatic ecotoxicology, microbial activity and nutrient cycling in soils, bacteriophages as water quality indicators, microbiological water quality impacts of grazing, and soil and water microbial diversity as a function of ecosystem disturbance. Dr. Rychert applies the techniques of molecular biology (biotechnology), biochemistry, and microbiology in the assessment of aquatic ecotoxicology, and in the evaluation of soil microbial functional diversity in soil and aquatic ecosystems. In addition, concepts of macroecology are applied to microbial ecology with a view toward assessment of ecosystem function.


Peer Reviewed

Rychert, R.C. et al. Restoration site evaluation from a soil microbial perspective. Submitted to Restoration Ecology (under revision).

Rychert, R.C. Assessment of cryptobiotic crust recovery. Submitted to Western North American Naturalist (in press).

Rychert, R. and M. Mortimer. 1991. Inhibition of bioluminescence in a recombinant Escherichia coli. Environmental Toxicology and Water Quality. 6:415-421.

Rychert, R.C.1990. Soil microbial biomass, ATP, and adenylate energy charge variations in a semi-arid soil. Acta Microbilogica Polon. 39:79-84.

Rychert, R.C. and G.R. Stephenson. 1986. Lactose negative Escherichia coli from rangeland streams: source, antibiotic resistance, and colicinogenicity. Water Resources Bulletin. 22:39-42.

Stephenson, G.R. and R.C. Rychert. 1982. Bottom sediment: a reservoir of Escherichia coli in rangeland streams. Journal of Range Management 35: 119-123.

Rychert, R.C. and G.R. Stephenson. 1981. Atypical Escherichia coli in streams. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 41:1276-1278.

Rychert, R.C., J. Skujins, D. Sorensen, and D. Procella. 1978. Nitrogen fixation by lichens and free-living microorganisms in deserts. In Nitrogen in desert ecosystems (N. West and J. Skujins,eds.). Dowden, Hutchinson, and Ross, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

Rychert, R.C. and J. Skujins.1974. Nitrogen fixation by blue-green algal lichen crust in the Great Basin desert. Soil Science Society of America Proceedings 33:768-771.

Rychert, R.C. 1973. Microbial activity in arid soils. Utah Science 34:96-98.

Ellman, G.E., R.T. Jones, and R.C. Rychert. 1967. Mauve spot and schizophrenia. American Journal of Psychiatry 125:849-851.


2000. Long Valley Watershed Management Planning on LADWP Lands. Water Quality Report(prepared by R.Rychert for Ecosystem Sciences and the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power).

2000. Long Valley Watershed Management Planning on LADWP Lands. Water Quality Report II (prepared by R. Rychert for Ecosystem Sciences and LADWP).

2000. Restoration of Barren Lands in the Owens Valley: Vascular Plant Microbial Communities II. (prepared by R. Rychert for Ecosystem Sciences, LADWP, and the Inyo County Water Department).

1999. Restoration of Barren Lands in the Owens Valley: Vascular Plant Microbial Communities. (prepared by R. Rychert for Ecosystem Sciences, LADWP, and the Inyo County Water Department).

1997. Effects of Oust on Microbiotic Crusts and Soil Microorganisms in the Kuna Butte Area, Southwestern Idaho. (prepared by J. Kaltenecker, R.C. Rychert, and M. Wicklow-Howard for the Bureau of Land Management).


Demasters, T.A., D.E. Soares, R.C. Rychert, and R.W. Ellis. 1996. Comparison of microbial communities in a polluted and non-polluted natural aquatic environment. Abstracts of the 38th annual meeting of the Idaho Academy of Sciences. Moscow, Idaho. Demasters awarded best undergraduate science presentation.

Percifield, R.J. and R.C. Rychert. 1998. Bioassay of Bacillus thuringiensis toxins by inhibition of bacterial bioluminescence. Abstracts of the 40th annual meeting of the Idaho Academy of Sciences. Boise, Idaho.