Our work concerns soil microbes and their interactions with the environment. Microbes are extremely diverse and are involved in all of earth’s biogeochemical cycles. Specifically, I am interested in understanding how climate change affects soil microbial communities, and then applying results towards modeling and predicting microbial feedbacks to climate and improving biofuels.
Apparently we had an exciting winter break! Gina Chaput, graduate student in the Microbiology graduate program, won a Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research for her work on soil bacterial carbonosomes, complex subcellular structures that act as energy reserves of polymeric carbon to maintain the cell's viability under stress. The Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research program has a highly competitive application process and only approximately 15% of applicants receive any level of funding. Julia Schnabel, an undergraduate in Microbiology and the Commonwealth Honors College, won two competitive awards for her research over break: a Research Assistant Fellowship and an Honors Research Grant from the CHC for Spring 2016, to work on her thesis project on fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) analysis for identifying changes in microbial soil communities. Good work!
Are you an undergraduate interested in microbiology, ecology or evolution? Do you have some computational experience but want to learn more? We have a number of bioinformatics projects suitable for independent study or possible capstone project. We are looking for you! Click through for details...
Congratulations to Grace Pold on achieving a Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid award, for her project entitled "Quantifying the effect of experimental soil warming on numerically rare but ecologically dominant pathways of the nitrogen cycle."
Are you interested in finding out more about what we do in the lab? I recently had the pleasure of presenting a talk for the new online Microbiology Seminar. There are new talks every month, and the old ones are archived. You can catch the archived ones at the website, and check out mine on youtube. Contact me if you have any questions, or want to help with the work!
With the start of fall semester, the lab is as big as it's ever been and we are happy to welcome our new members, and celebrate new accomplishments!
We are so excited to have Gina Chaput as our newest Microbiology graduate student in the lab! Gina has her B.S. in Genetics from the University of New Hampshire, where she studied with Dr Estelle Hrabak. Here she wrote an honors thesis studying how the accD gene in Chlorella variabilis produces the enzyme that influences lipid content for biodiesel production. She was also an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Ihab Farag’s Lab, studying Pyrolysis oil (Bio-oil) enhancement as well as Chlorella microalgae growth conditions in municipal waste water.
Soil sustains life in many ways, but soil is also a limiting and non-renewable natural resource. Current best practices, including “organic” and “sustainable” agriculture, have become both movements as well as trademarks. At best these practices and associated regulations aim to protect this valuable resource. At worst, these practices are expensive and may be harmful to the sustainability of soil and ecosystems.
In January of 2014, we were notified of the acceptance of our proposal for funding, entitled "Changes in Soil Carbon Dynamics in Response to Long-Term Soil Warming - Integration Across Scales from Cells to Ecosystems". This award is for three years of study, and the PIs are Dr. Kristen DeAngelis, Dr. Jeffrey Blanchard (UMass Biology) and Dr. Jerry Melillo (The Ecosystems Center, MBL).