Dr. Jackie Goordial 
Assistant Professor 
University of Guelph

I am an environmental microbiologist, investigating how communities of microorganisms interact to maintain diversity and mediate biogeochemical cycling in the environment, linking microscale processes to global scale biogeochemical cycling

To carry out my research, I employ a combination of genomic sequencing with culturing, microbial metabolic activity and viability measurements both in situ and in the laboratory. While less than 1% of known microorganisms can be cultivated in the lab and are known to us solely through molecular analyses, this approach results in a more holistic understanding of environmental microbiology than genomic analyses alone.

I seek to understand the abiotic controls on microbial activity, growth, dormancy and death and how these physiological cell states relate to diversity, evolution and biogeochemical cycling in the environment. The environments I focus on are typically microbial dominated, such as permafrost, nutrient poor marine sediments,  the rock hosted life within oceanic crust, and Arctic and Antarctic cryptoendoliths ("hidden within rock"). 

Currently, continuing my work as a Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia Postdoctoral fellowship, I am investigating the fate of ancient permafrost carbon as it enters the marine environment due to coastal permafrost erosion.  

Previously, my research as a NSF CDEBI Postdoctoral fellow at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean sciences employed highly sensitive assays to fluorescently tag microorganisms at the single cell level that are translationally active (making new proteins), actively respiring, and dead and viable cells; I combined these methods with single cell sorting, to associate genomics with these physiological cell states in the environment.  This ongoing work examines questions of microbial activity in deep marine oceanic crust. Please see the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (CDEBI) for more details about this program! 

I have a special interest in environments in which nutrients, energy and biomass are scarce, and life is potentially operating at its limits. The overarching goal of my research is to better understand the cell life cycle strategies and genomic mechanisms that shape microbial community structure and function in such extreme environments. Understanding the limits of life is important on Earth, but also helps inform how and where we look for life elsewhere – in our solar system and beyond. Many of the environments I study, and questions I ask are related to the fascinating field of Astrobiology. Check out a talk I have given at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences here on how we can learn from microorganisms on Earth, to inform the search for life elsewhere.

Please feel free to contact me about my research, or any other questions. Please feel free to request PDFs of my publications ( Link to Google Scholar).