Our Research

Microbiome research is among the most exciting and promising areas of science today due to many technological advances that allow us to determine in complex environments which microbes are present and their metabolism. Our laboratory’s primary long-term research goal is to contribute to the understanding of microbial communities and their evolution by developing and applying genome-based technology. Working in the fields of evolutionary biology and climate change, we are sensitive to how scientific results can be difficult to reconcile with our belief systems and seek to increase public understanding of scientific data. Our research is supported by the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and New England BioLabs. Below are overviews of some of our current project areas.

The Harvard Forest Experimental Warming Plots

The Harvard Forest Long Term Ecological Research site in Petersham, MA is home to long-term experimental soil warming sites where our current field work is based. The oldest of these warming sites was established by Jerry Melillo in 1991 to measure the effects of global warming by running cables 10 cm under the forest floor and heating the soil 5° C above the control plot temperature throughout the year. After 25 years of continuous warming there has been a measurable changes increase in the flux of carbon dioxide from carbon in the soil to the atmosphere through increase microbial respiration. This has been accompanied by changes in soil chemistry, the microbial communities and the forest plants.