Four Miami University microbiologists — who make up the department’s new microbiology physiology research cluster — collaborate on projects with each other and with more than a dozen researchers from other universities.
Together, they are working on five projects funded by more than $5.2 million in recent grants from three national agencies. Study sites range from nearby Acton Lake to Antarctica.
Microbes — the first living creatures on Earth — are microscopic, single-celled organisms found almost everywhere on Earth including on and inside you.
- Microbes make up more than 60 percent of Earth’s biomass.
- An estimated 2-3 billion species of microbes share our planet — but fewer than 0.5 percent (that’s still 10 million) have been identified.
- Microbes generate at least half of the oxygen we breathe.
From the human gut to the atmosphere
The research projects of Rachael Morgan-Kiss, Annette Bollmann and D.J. Ferguson, associate professors of microbiology, and Xin Wang, assistant professor, explore microbes in projects including:
- Microbial engineering for the production of biofuels.
- Manipulating microbial communities to function more efficiently for wastewater treatment.
- Studying extremophiles to create new engineering targets for artificial photosynthesis.
- Contributing to long-term research on climate variation in the South Pole.
- Human gut microbes.
By the numbers:
- Four faculty mentor nine graduate and 11 undergraduate students on these projects.
- They collaborate with 13 researchers from 11 universities.
- One internationally-known artist, Xavier Cortada, is working with students and researchers.
Read their stories:
Click on the links to read their stories in Miami’s Campus News.
Rachael Morgan-Kiss and Xin Wang: “Antarctic algae, alternative photosynthesis and art.”
D.J. Ferguson and Xin Wang: “Microbes, QAs, methane: Top to bottom.”
Annette Bollmann: “Microbial ‘neighbors’ improve ammonia removal in wastewater.”
Xin Wang: “Engineering microbes.”
Spotlight on undergraduate research:
These faculty each mentor several undergraduate research students. Learn more about their research at Miami’s 25th Annual Undergraduate Research Forum, April 23-24.
Morgan-Kiss: All students in her Microbial Ecology (MBI 475/575) class will present posters about their work with samples from Antarctica.
Xavier Cortada, an internationally-known environmental artist based in Miami, Florida, will meet with the class to help them design posters for a broad, general audience.
Ferguson’s lab group: Sarah Soppe, senior microbiology major and Spanish double major, and Claire Papamarcos, senior microbiology major and environmental science co-major.
Bollmann’s lab group: Conor Dolson, senior microbiology major and premedical studies co-major.
Wang’s lab group: Kaya Mernitz, senior microbiology major and premedical studies co-major.
Photos of D.J. Ferguson and Annette Bollmann by Scott Kissell, Miami University Photo Services.