Ill be using molecular biological, chemical, and electrochemical
techniques to study the colonization process. I'll also be working
with a piece of equipment called the Sipper. It goes down on the
basket of the sub and takes water samples, and is also connected
to the equipment taking electrochemical and temperature data.
What questions are you trying to answer and why?
In our lab, we're interested in the ways in which microorganisms
interact with their environment. We know that chemistry plays a
huge role in where and how the organisms live; our goal is to find
out exactly how it all works. To do this, we need to discover what
types of microbes are down there, how they get energy and grow,
and exactly what their chemical surroundings are made up of. Why?
Because hydrothermal vent systems may have played a part in the
early evolution of life on Earth. The closer we get to understanding
the links between chemistry and biology, the more we can infer about
that evolution. Also, in a lot of ways this research is analogous
to searching for and studying life beyond Earth. Studying organisms
living in some of Earths most extreme environments may someday
help us to learn if (and how) life is functioning elsewhere.
Whats your educational background and what lured you
into marine research?
I received my B.S. in marine biology from Texas A&M University.
After that, I spent a few years doing aquaculture research with
shrimp and cephalopods before deciding to switch to deep-sea research
for my advanced degree. I think the main thing that hooked me on
marine research is the vastness of the field. Its incredibly
interdisciplinary. There are so many questions to be answered and
discoveries to be made.