Dean of Natural Science, Associate Professor of Microbiology
Jason M. Tor, dean of the School of Natural Science and associate professor of microbiology, received his B.S. in soil science and a M.S. in natural resources and environmental science from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign and a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
He has a broad research and teaching interest in soil microbiology and geomicrobiology.
He 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.
How will we meet the challenges of sustainable energy production, infectious diseases, climate change, and food production for 9 billion people? The smallest of Earth's inhabitants, the microorganisms, might have the answer. Beginning with discussions and case studies, students will evaluate these issues and critique the scientific evidence that microbes have a role in solving humanity's urgent problems. The culmination of this work will be an independent research project focused on students' interests.
This course is part of an integrated science learning experience combining microbiology, biogeochemistry, hydrology, and mathematical modeling using the new 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 systems of the living building in their specific discipline. Once a week all three classes will meet together to complete interdisciplinary projects, share expertise, and form a collaborative science learning community. Students will read and share primary literature, complete problem sets, 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, Integrated Sciences II: Collaborative Design Projects, during the spring semester. Students enrolled in NS-156T: Microbes in a Living Building, will focus on the microbial components of drinking water and waste processing in the living building. We will explore waterborne diseases, microbial diversity, and metabolism throughout the building's treatment systems, and compare these systems with other innovative approaches to water and wastewater treatment.
Do you have an idea for a science fiction story? Can it be developed into a short film? In this course students will develop science fiction short films that have a basis in scientific ideas from the fields of biology, astronomy, physics, or scientific ethics. Students are expected to work in small groups towards a goal of producing short films and writing an individual paper justifying the science used in their film. Students with some experience in science, film, or creative writing are welcome. Prerequisite: one science OR film OR creative writing course.
Associate Professor of Microbiology
Mail Code NS
Cole Science Center 312
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002