Virus bacteria cells as seen in a three-dimensional microscopic rendering.

Human Microbiome

Ecoss studies the microbial communities of the human body and the implications for disease including STDs and HIV, as well as analyzing the microbial community using bioinformatics, community ecology theory and Bayesian statistical modeling.

Quality control expert Inspecting chicken meat specimen in the laboratory

Ecosystem of Antibiotic Resistance

We study antibiotic resistance in human pathogens, genetic sampling of meat for antibiotic resistance, methods to develop a molecular database for strains of E. coli in urinary tract infections, and food safety of kosher vs non-kosher chicken.

Field site in Antarctica with a crate in the foreground and steep mountains in background.

Environments

We study soil microbial communities in Antarctica, microbes in hot spring ecosystems in Tengchong, China, methane production at Axel Heiberg Island near Greenland as an analog for life on other planets, and the distribution of soil microbial communities across the arid Southwest.

Detail of Yellow Fremont Cottonwood Leaves in Autumn Stream

Leaf Litter Effects on Stream Ecosystems

As part of a large interdisciplinary team, with funding from the National Science Foundation, we have studied how genetic and environmental factors affect leaf litter quality in cottonwoods and other riparian species, and how these effects are manifest in aquatic ecosystems.

Close-up of cheatgrass

Soil Microbial Legacies of Invasive Species

Invasive plants like cheatgrass have huge and costly effects on ecosystems. Restoring native plants to areas invaded by cheatgrass is challenging, and one explanation for poor seedling establishment is the absence of beneficial soil microbes. In this project, we are testing the idea that restoring microbial communities promotes ecosystem recovery and the re-establishment of native plants.