Our lab investigates the causes and consequences of microbial community formation, including the roles of fungi in symbioses, how microbes respond to and influence a changing environment, and how to harness microbes to improve conservation of macroorganisms.

Here’s the online lab handbook with expectations and information for lab members.

Students interested in joining the lab should fill out this application and bring a hard copy to my office.

Space is limited, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Please feel free come by my office to chat with me if you have a specific project in mind. Priority is given to students with at least 2 years left until graduation.

Here’s our shared reading folder.

If you need a reference letter from me for graduate or professional school, please see these instructions

We work with a number of systems, focused on microbial community structure and function:

Urbanized coral reefs and seagrass meadows

We’re collaborating with the National University of Singapore to explore the microbes associating with corals, and are especially interested in tracking community structure during bleaching events. By comparing coral microbiomes at a range of spatial scales, across a diversity of human imapcts, coral ages, and even localized ocean currents, we are piecing together the core coral microbiome and uncovering factors that shape microbial community formation on these endangered ecosystems.

Alpine forest fires

We’re using microcosms and the natural laboratory of Utah alpine forests to study microbial succession in soils after fires. Our sampling includes fire sites from ~20 years ago to recently burned areas. We also use simulated forest fires in a series of mesocosms to track microbial recovery at a very fine temporal scale. Preliminary data agrees with the hypothesis that full recovery can take decades, but we are seeing that temperature and precipitation increases can speed up this recovery time.