The goal of my research is to improve conceptual and numerical models of biogeochemical cycling and the coupled evolution of Earth surface chemistry and life. We work across multiple scales of space and time, from mineral-microbe interactions to global processes, and from the Precambrian through to the Anthropocene. Current research in my lab addresses the questions: 1) how did the Earth come to support complex animal life and humans; 2) how will biogeochemical cycles respond to the emergence of humans as geobiological agents; and 3) how can we harness the ingenuity of microbial communities to mitigate pain-points arising from increased human demands on water, energy, mineral, and agricultural resources? Much of this research takes place in modern environments and involves coupling geochemical tools and process rate measurements with state-of-the-art molecular and classical microbiological techniques. These techniques allow collection of ecophysiological data that can be linked to the presence and abundance of biological information molecules (eg DNA, RNA, Protein) and their organization into specific taxonomic units and ultimately networked microbial communities. We work to incorporate this ‘multi-omic’ microbial and ecophysiological information into reaction-transport-ecology models that enable quantitative reconstructions and predictions of once and future biogeochemical processes. Such models, developed in modern environments, become essential tools for the reconstruction of past change when leveraged against robust paleoproxy data. Improving the utility of classical and new transition metal stable isotope proxies is also an important component of our research program. We also use ecophysiological and genetic information acquired in modern environments to identify microbial metabolic capacity that can be used to innovate new and disruptive biotechnologies. We actively engage with the private sector and work directly with commercial partners to valorize scientific insight in the mineral, oil and gas, waste management, and biomedical sectors.
Prospective Students and Postdocs:
We are always looking for talented and motivated students and postdocs to join our interdisciplinary team.