I am interested in research questions which pertain to how microbial life evolved, persist, and acquire energy in extreme environments such as the deep biosphere and in polar environments - 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.

My research employs a combination of genomic sequencing with culturing, microbial metabolic activity and viability measurements both in situ and in the laboratory; this approach results in a more holistic understanding of environmental systems than genomics analyses alone.  For example- there are environments such as University Valley in the Antarctic, where we can find DNA and viable microbial life, but no evidence of an active microbial community under in situ conditions. 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.

My current CDEBI postdoctoral fellowship research examines questions of microbial activity in deep marine oceanic crust. Please see CDEBI for more details about this program!

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).