Professor of Microbiology
He has a broad research and teaching interest in soil microbiology and geomicrobiology, and.has conducted research in a variety of extreme environments, including the hydrothermal vents in Yellowstone National Park and Vulcano, Italy, hypersaline areas of Death Valley National Park, and metal contaminated soils and sediments in Massachusetts.
It is estimated that greater than 99% of the approximately one billion different species of microorganisms on Earth remain uncultivated in the laboratory and therefore mostly unknown. This vast bacterial diversity poses a major challenge for microbiologists to understand their ecological significance and role in the biosphere. Although these organisms are sometimes referred to as "unculturable" recent advances in biotechnology and creative thinking about culturing techniques has begun to shed light on this mysterious majority. We will explore these "uncultured" microorganisms through intensive, laboratory-based research projects and readings from the primary research literature. In the laboratory students will have the opportunity to use their knowledge and creativity in pursuit of bringing previously unknown microorganisms into culture.
Dreaming about winning a Nobel Prize in medicine? You might need this class exploring exciting topics in contemporary biomedical research.We will focus on rapidly advancing areas such as human microbiome, immunology targeted drug delivery, circadian rhythms, and more, with each of 6 Natural Science faculty members leading discussions on a cutting edge topic. Activities will include analysis of research papers, exploration of methodologies, problem solving, and an examination of the implications of this research for the future of medicine. Finally, students will have the opportunity to conduct independent inquiry into a topic of interest to them.
Environmental microbiology is the study of microbial activity and diversity in both natural and artificial environments. The subject is inherently multidisciplinary-relying upon contributions from analytical chemistry, geosciences, environmental engineering, public health, ecology, evolution and microbiology. Microbes represent the very origin of life on earth, and they comprise the basis of our biological legacy. They remain crucial to global biogeochemical cycling, which supports the continuance of life on our planet, turning over those elements that represent the basic ingredients of life. In this course discussions will be based on readings from texts and primary research literature, while laboratory-based research will be a key component of our activities.
This course is part of an integrated science learning experience combining water resources, mathematical modeling, and microorganisms using the Hampshire College Kern Center, built to the Living Building Challenge Standard, as a case study. Students will meet twice a week to explore the science behind the microbial systems of the living building. Then, once a week all three classes (NS132, NS140 and NS156) will meet together to complete interdisciplinary projects, share expertise, and form a collaborative science learning community. Students will read and share primary literature and work collaboratively on projects. We will learn about the campus living building from the architects and design engineers, take field tours, and meet faculty across campus engaged with the project. Students who complete this course may choose to continue their work using the living building in NS280, Collaborative Project Design, during the spring semester. Students enrolled in Microbes in the Living Building (NS156) will explore the role microorganisms play in the built environment, particularly the treatment of greywater and composting biogeochemical processes. We will apply microbiology lab methods to assess the characteristics and quantity of microorganisms throughout the building.
In this laboratory-based course students will develop some of the skills necessary to conduct a meaningful microbiology research project from start to finish. Students will gain hands-on experience with environmental microbiological techniques and the bioinformatics tools required to analyze and interpret the resulting data. In the process, students will discover a vast microbial community and previously unknown phenotypes.