Matt Schrenk, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Ph.D, University of Washington- Oceanography, 2005

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

curriculum vitae

I am an Assistant 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 combined 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 of 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. We conduct  field work in a number of international locales including the middle of the ocean, serpentinites in Costa Rica, California, Newfoundland, and Italy, and volcanoes in Central and South America.


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 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!

Heather Miller

Ph.D. Student

Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics

Heather joined the lab in Fall 2016 where she has been studying the relationship between microbial communities and gas flux from hot springs. She has participated in field expeditions in Alaska and Costa Rica, applying molecular biology methods to water samples from the deep biosphere. Her work, along with our colleagues on the Biology Meets Subduction team, has shown the important role of subsurface microbes in suppressing the flux of carbon dioxide from volcanic environments- which ultimately could impact global climate.

Lindsay I. Putman

Ph.D. Candidate

Dual Major

Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences

Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics

Lindsay joined the lab in Fall 2016 following an undergraduate degree in Earth & Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan.

Maria Berry
Undergraduate Research Assistant

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 in groundwater stimulated by drilling activities, with a focus specifically on serpentinizing ecosystems. She is studying the growth and physiology of microbes isolated from microcosm experiments intended to simulate drilling.

Vivian Werth
Undergraduate Research Assistant

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

Lab Alumni
Mary C. Sabuda
M.Sc., Environmental Geoscience
Currently a Ph.D. Candidate at U. of Minnesota
Katrina I. Twing
Ph.D., Microbiology, 2015
Currently: Assistant Professor at Tennessee Tech University
Katrina studies

Michigan State University

Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences

Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics

288 Farm Lane, Rm. 144

East Lansing, Michigan 48824