Wednesday, April 17, 7 p.m.
ConocoPhillips Integrated Science Building, Room 120
Please join us for a public presentation by Colin Murrell titled “‘Fighting Climate Change with Microbiology.” Professor Murrell is the first director of the Earth and Life Sciences Alliance (ELSA), an initiative that aims to understand how earth and life systems respond to climate change. Murrell’s visit is sponsored by Alaska Experimental Program to Stimulate Creative Research (EPSCoR).
It is vital that we gain a better understanding of how earth and life systems respond to climate change. Knowledge of how microbes drive global biogeochemical cycles is very important in understanding how environmental processes are regulated. Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and gases that harm the Earth’s atmosphere, and finding out how microbes consume trace gases such as methane and isoprene before they can be released into the atmosphere is a central aim of our research. Although it is well known that microbes are major drivers of the biogeochemical cycling of elements in the biosphere, it is not easy to find out which are the most important groups of microbes present in the environment and, more importantly, which ones are most active. We have developed methods by which we can study microbes that grow on greenhouse gases such as methane and isoprene, both in the laboratory and directly in the environment. During my presentation, I will provide examples of research: lab-based and field experiments that investigate the microbial consumption of methane and related compounds in a variety of environments, including both the terrestrial and marine environment as well as an unusual cave system where methane sustains a unique underground ecosystem.