Principal Investigator: James F. Holden, Associate Professor
Graduate Students: T. Jennifer Lin
Former Graduate Students
Dr. Holden is an Associate Professor of Microbiology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he began his appointment as an Assistant Professor in 2003. His post-doctoral research was done in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Georgia with Dr. Michael W. W. Adams. He earned his Ph.D. in 1996 in Oceanography at the University of Washington with Dr. John A. Baross. His research focuses primarily on microorganisms that grow optimally above 80°C, or so-called 'hyperthermophiles', from geothermal environments in the deep sea. He has made 11 dives in the research submarine Alvin to depths exceeding 2 km, and was the chief scientist of two oceanographic research cruises with Alvin in 2008 and 2009 at sites in the northeastern Pacific Ocean. Dr. Holden's field research examines microbial life in the subsurface biosphere, the distribution and abundances of specific types of microorganisms and their relation with environmental factors, numerical modeling of microbial habitability, microbial responses to volcanic eruptions, and the upper temperature limit for life. He has also conducted research into the physiological mechanisms of anaerobic respiration and CO2 assimilation in hyperthermophilic archaea. His biotechnology interests are related to high temperature bioreactors for bioenergy production.
T. Jennifer Lin
Jenn is originally from Swaziland and has a B.Sc. in Life Sciences (2006) from National Yang Ming University in Taipei, Taiwan. In 2007 she completed a research internship working with extremophile biochemistry at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. After completing her internship, she taught English in Taiwan for two years before beginning her Ph.D. at UMass Amherst in 2009. Her research focuses on the interactions between hyperthermophilic iron-reducing archaea and iron mineral formation in hydrothermal vent systems, encompassing microbiology, biochemistry, and mineralogy.
Lucy has a B.A. in History (2009) and a B.Sc.(Hons) in Microbiology (2010) from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her Honours thesis focused on comparing the ecophysiology of rock-living bacteria and fungi from the Antarctic Dry Valleys to similar species from the foothills of the Southern Alps in New Zealand. Between her undergraduate and postgraduate work, she worked on human and animal genetics projects as a research assistant in the University of Otago (Christchurch) School of Medicine. She came to UMass Amherst to begin her Ph.D. in 2010 with a Fulbright Graduate Award. In 2011 she was awarded a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship to fund her current research into the bioenergetics of methanogenic archaea and thiosulphate-reducing bacteria and modeling habitability at hydrothermal vent sites using bioenergetic data. This will hopefully result in better modeling of potential habitability at target extraterrestrial sites for astrobiology research. Her areas of research interest include astrobiology, bioenergetics, microbial ecology, and extremophiles. She blogs about life in America at Perplex Me Not, and also enjoys culturing nitrifying bacteria at home, or as it's better known, keeping tropical fish.
Begum has a B.Sc. in Biological Sciences and Bioengineering from Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey. She did research on enzyme biotechnology for textile industry after her graduation. At UMass, her research focuses on understanding methane cycling in hydrothermal vent systems.
Emily has a B.Sc. in Microbiology (2013) and a B.A. in Spanish Language and Culture (2013) from UMass Amherst. She began her undergraduate research as part of the Arsenic Project in the Tyson Lab (UMass-Chemistry) with a focus on optimizing detection techniques of arsenic in soils and groundwater. Emily has been a member of the Holden Lab since 2011 and is currently a Masters candidate with a focus on metabolite analysis of hyperthermophilic heterotrophs and their remediation of agricultural food waste.
James Llewellyn graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in spring 2013 with a B.Sc. in Microbiology. He began working in the Holden lab in the spring of 2012 as an undergraduate and is continuing his research there into a Masters' degree in Microbiology. He is currently working on the characterization of a sulfur-reducing bacterium isolated from a deep sea hydrothermal vent off the coast of Oregon.
Our laboratory usually includes two to three undergraduate students doing research for honors projects and fifth-year Master's degrees, working under the supervision of PhD students. We also regularly host overseas exchange students working on semester or year-long research projects. In the past few years we have hosted students from Germany, Sweden, France, and Korea. We welcome inquiries from undergraduate or prospective graduate students interested in our research or joining our lab.
Former Graduate Students
- Helene C. Ver Eecke (Ph.D., 2010) Dissertation title: "Growth kinetics and constraints related to metabolic diversity and abundances of hyperthermophiles in deep-sea hydrothermal vents"
- Yajing Hu (Ph.D., 2007) Dissertation title: “Characterization of the CO2 assimilation pathways in the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrobaculum islandicum”
- Lawrence F. Feinberg (Ph.D., 2007) Dissertation title: “Dissimilatory iron reduction in the hyperthermophilic archaea Pyrobaculum”
- Samantha L. Zelin (M.S., 2011) Topic: "Pyrococcus furiosus: a bioenergetics study"
- Daniel M. Oslowski (M.S., 2009) Topic: “Cellulose-to-hydrogen conversion by hyperthermophilic heterotrophs”
- Natalie J. Neubert (M.S., 2008) Topic: “Iron lung Pyrobaculum aerophilum: Dissimilatory iron reduction near 100°C”
- Ines C. Scholl (M.S., 2008) Topic: “Extracellular iron reduction by Pyrobaculum aerophilum”
- Lynda J. Yennaco (M.S., 2006) Topic: “Malate dehydrogenase from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrobaculum aerophilum”