Department: Chemical & Biological Engineering
University System: Montana State University - Bozeman
Microorganisms have a profound impact on the composition of the biosphere and global biogeochemical cycles. Research in our group focuses on understanding how the environment controls the composition of microbial communities and how, in turn, those microbes regulate whole ecosystem processes such as nutrient and organic matter cycling. Ongoing research concerns carbon flux through bacterial communities, with the long-term goal of improving predictions of carbon fate (metabolism to CO2, sequestration into biomass, long term storage in ice) in the context of a changing environment. A major thrust of my work has been in the Antarctic, where there exists a relatively large reservoir of organic carbon tied up in the ice. Additional areas of research include aquatic biofilm communities and psychrophilic physiological adaptations. Regardless of the environment, our group employs limnological, biochemical and molecular biology approaches to investigate fundamental processes carried out by microbes. This research lies at the intersection of microbial and ecosystem ecology and uses a combination of field and laboratory studies, as well as approaches ranging from the single-cell to the community level.