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Matt Schrenk, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Ph.D, University of Washington- Oceanography, 2005

B.Sc., University of Wisconsin- Geology & Geophysics, South Asian Studies, 1998

I am an Associate Professor jointly appointed between the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Michigan State University. Previously, I was an Assistant Professor of Microbiology at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. Prior to that I was a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC. I completed my Ph.D. in Oceanography at the University of Washington in 2005, following an undergraduate dual major in Geology & Geophysics and South Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin.

   Through these various experiences I have developed a strong interest in combining geological and microbiological perspectives through the emerging field of Geomicrobiology. I have studied all kinds of extremophiles including those that love acid and alkaline solutions, high pressures, and high temperatures. Microbial interactions with the environment in these systems have important influences on geochemical cycles and climate on Earth, as well as contemporary processes related to anthropogenic disturbances. They also impact the potential for life to exist on other planets and moons and the emergence of life on early Earth. In addition to Michigan, we conduct field work in a number of locales around the world including the middle of the ocean, serpentinites in Costa Rica, California, Newfoundland, and Italy, and volcanoes in Central and South America.

Current Graduate Students
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Osama Alian

Ph.D. Candidate

Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics

Osama joined the lab in Fall 2018 and promptly participated in a oceanographic research expedition to the Lost City Hydrothermal Field near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. He is studying the ecology of microbial communities within the walls of carbonate hydrothermal chimneys using observational approaches, coupling microbiology and geochemistry, experimental approaches using gradients in the lab, and modeling approaches incorporating diffusion and reaction. He is passionate about all things Astrobiology!

Maria Berry

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M.Sc./B.Sc. Student

Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics

Maria is a Microbiology major from the Lyman Briggs honors college who has been working in the lab since Fall 2019. She is investigating microbial communities associated with septic field contamination in the Saginaw Bay watershed using metagenomic approaches. Her work is aimed at developing novel tracers that can be used to distinguish septic contamination from other sources.

Current Undergraduates
Tai Brass
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Nicole Smith
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Nicole is an Microbiology and Molecular Genetics major conducting an independent study project investigating the subsurface biosphere using samples associated with geological hydrogen exploration. She is using microscopic and molecular approaches to study drill cuttings from an exploration hole that extends 11,000 ft. beneath the land surface in Nebraska.

Lab Alumni
Postdoctoral Researchers
William Brazelton
NASA Astrobiology Institute Postdoctoral Fellow
Currently: Associate Professor, Department of Biology, University of Utah
Melitza Crespo-Medina
Deep Carbon Observatory Postdoctoral Fellow
Currently: Investigadora, CECIA, Puerto Rico
Dani Morgan-Smith
C-DEBI Postdoctoral Fellow, 2012-2015
Lauren M. Seyler
Deep Carbon Observatory Postdoctoral Fellow, 2015-2017
Currently: Assistant Professor, Stockton University
Seyler Lab website
Graduate Students
Heather Blumenfeld
M.Sc., Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, 2011
East Carolina University
Thesis: Microbial Carbon Assimilation with the Walls of Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vent Chimneys
Crystal George
M.Sc., Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, 2014
East Carolina University
Thesis: Physiological Studies of Alkaliphilic Anaerobic Organotrophs in a Serpentinizing Subsurface Habitat
Alyssa Kloysuntia
M.Sc., Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, 2014
East Carolina University
Thesis: Physiological and Phylogenetic Studies of the Biogeography of Alkaliphilic Heterotrophic Bacteria from Serpentinizing Habitats
Heather A. Miller
M.Sc., Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, 2021
Thesis: Biogeochemistry of Environmental Gradients in Serpentinization-Influenced Groundwater at the Coast Range Ophiolite Microbial Observatory, California

Lindsay I. Putman

Ph.D. Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Dual Major), 2021

Thesis:

Putman website 

Mary C. Sabuda
M.Sc., Environmental Geoscience, 2017
Currently a Ph.D. Candidate at U. of Minnesota
Thesis: Biogeochemistry of Environmental Gradients in Serpentinization-Influenced Groundwater at the Coast Range Ophiolite Microbial Observatory, California
Katrina I. Twing
Ph.D., Microbiology, 2015
Currently: Assistant Professor at Weber State University
Thesis: Microbial Diversity and Metabolic Potential of the Serpentinite Subsurface Environment
Twing Lab website
Quinn Woodruff
M.Sc., Biology, 2010
Currently:
Thesis: Microbial Diversity and Biogeography in a Serpentinite-Hosted Ecosystem
Undergraduates
Chad Barry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, MSU
Maria Berry, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, MSU
Jocelyn Brito, GeoCaFES Program, NEIU
David Chalmers, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, MSU
Kathryn Ford, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, MSU
Lydia Hayes, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics MSU
Dylan Mankel, Biochemistry and Astrophysics, MSU
Miranda Pryde, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, MSU
Jacob Roush, Earth and Environmental Sciences, MSU
Mary Sabuda, Earth and Environmental Sciences, MSU

Jordan Salley, Earth and Environmental Sciences, MSU
Kai Selwa, Earth and Environmental Sciences, MSU
Vivian Werth, Earth and Environmental Sciences, MSU