I am a microbial ecologist fascinated by the plasticity, flexibility and enormous biodiversity of microbial communities. In particular, my goal is to better understand how microbial inhabitants of ecosystems respond to alterations, specifically those caused by humans, and whether those changes affect the ecosystem functions and services in either natural or built environments.
At Brown, I am focusing on the effects of nitrogen contamination on microbes from coastal sediments and the consequences for the biogeochemical functioning of the benthic community. In the past, I worked extensively on artificial microbial ecosystems. I used them to study how microbial communities organize to maximize energy use over long periods of time and to cope with periodic environmental fluctuations. I have also studied the microbial diversity of laboratory-scale wastewater treatment bioreactors designed to reduce sulfur and nitrogen contamination on petroleum industry effluents.