What questions are you trying to answer and why?
We are attempting to gain a more thorough understanding of the
microbial community composition of hydrothermal vents and its interactions
with the unique chemical environment. These organisms have developed
methods to thrive under extreme conditions that were once thought
to be lethal to biological systems. Understanding the biological
and chemical interactions of these extreme environments may provide
evidence for the evolution of early biological systems.
Why is this research important? What are the benefits?
This research will provide for a better understanding of the diversity
of life present in the ocean and on the planet. It will expand our
knowledge of the temperature and chemical limitations of life and
the mechanisms developed by organisms to thrive under such conditions.
The isolation of enzymes from vent organisms may prove useful in
industrial processes. These systems have also been theorized to
mimic the environmental conditions of early Earth and have implications
into theories into the early evolution of life on this planet and
the possibility of life on other planets.
Whats your educational background and what lured you into
I majored in marine science and biology at the University of Georgia.
Through my undergraduate studies and past research experience, I
developed a strong interest in marine microbes and their interactions
with the environment. I am now a graduate student at the University
of Delaware College of Marine Studies.