Microorganisms--while they may be nothing to look at--have evolved a bewildering diversity of metabolic pathways that have allowed them to oxygenate our atmosphere, drive nutrient cycles in the oceans, and fertilize our soils. Despite centuries of investigation by classical microbiology techniques, the full diversity and evolutionary relationships of microbes was inaccessible until the rise of high throughout DNA sequencing in the last two decades. For the first time we can determine who is out there, what they are doing, and where they came from.
My research involves applying computational, evolutionary, and ecological techniques to investigate this newly available microbial genome data to understand the diversity and functional potential in modern environments and how microbial metabolisms have evolved through Earth history.
My teaching and outreach efforts focus on the roles played by microbes in driving global biogeochemical cycles, feeding humanity, and shaping environmental conditions through time.