Microbes have dominated Earth's history, and their activity is the basis of all biogeochemical cycles. Given this, any effort to understand how Earth's ecosystems will respond to environmental change or perturbation requires consideration of these tiny organisms.
My general research interests lie at the interface of environmental science and microbiology, in studying how communities of microorganisms develop and function in the environment, and what biotic and abiotic factors control the stability of these communities and the important biogeochemical functions they perform. To this end, research in my lab seeks to identify the key constraints affecting the distribution, organization, and function of microbial assemblages, and to apply the knowledge gained to issues of environmental concern.
To address these questions, we rely on both laboratory experiments and comparative field studies, often incorporating techniques from a variety of disciplines including microbiology, ecology, molecular genetics, multivariate statistics, and analytical chemistry. To help test the generality of our findings, we have considered several different types of habitats, including agricultural soils, salt-marshes, groundwater, and sewage.
Current projects in the lab include: