ResearchMicrobes, the unseen majority of organisms on our planet, catalyze reactions of global importance by driving biogeochemical cycles. By carrying out oxidation and reduction reactions, microbes control the availability of many nutrients and trace elements for other organisms and determine the fate of pollutants in the environment. Understanding the effects of microbes on biogeochemical processes requires linking the structure of microbial communities (e.g., phylogeny and identity) with their function (e.g., metabolism and mineral interactions) within their environment.
I study these links using an interdisciplinary approach to microbial ecology and biogeochemistry with traditional microbiology methods, state-of-the-art molecular and geochemical techniques, and electron microscopy. In order to understand how microorganisms impact their environment and biogeochemical cycles and in turn, how an environment impacts microorganisms, I investigate both contaminated and pristine environments. I focus primarily on bioremediation and natural attenuation in lakes, soils, and terrestrial sediments, and the geomicrobiology of pristine aquifers caves, pitcher plants, and salt marshes.