Science Overview


Microbial Ecology cycle Illustration

We are a research team in microbial and ecosystem science striving for basic understanding and discovery, as well as for application that reveals how humans affect ecological systems, and how changes in these systems affect humans. 

In our research, we are working to better understand:

1. ecosystems and the climate, including how plants and microbes contribute to the climate through greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and through energy absorption and reflection at the Earth’s surface; 

2. how organisms impact ecosystem structure and function

3. the importance of microorganisms in ecosystems, and how ecological microbiology offers us a clearer picture of how microorganisms interact within their natural habitats. 

4. infectious disease using a microbial ecology lens. For example, we ask how strains of E. coli develop antibiotic resistance in the food production sector and rapidly transmit around the world, or, how the resident microflora in people affects the colonization by pathogens like staph, E. coli, and HIV; and 

5. broad ecological patterns and processes around the world and the rules that govern them. We do this by gathering data collected from past studies and analyzing them all together, an approach called meta-analysis, and by evaluating and applying mathematical models to ecological systems.