|MICROBIAL BIODIVERSITY: INVISIBLE CATALYSTS OF OUR ENVIRONMENT
|Every moment of every day, millions of microscopic organisms are performing chemical transformations that directly affect our lives. A delicate balance of soil and plant-associated microorganisms are responsible for our nation's agricultural stability. Some of the most abundant and diverse microbial communities on the planet perform a wide array of chemical reactions to degrade harmful pollutants in our waste water treatment plants. There are more microbial symbionts inhabiting our bodies than human cells, allowing us to perform basic functions such as digestion. In our natural environment, microorganisms mediate the majority of Earth's biogeochemical cycles, and are integrally involved in natural processes, such as ecological succession from Lake Michigan sand dune to old-growth forest depicted above.
Little is known about how these invisible catalysts will be affected by anthropogenic influences in the environment, including global climate change, land use change, urbanization and chemical pollutant loading. Research in the Docherty Lab at Western Michigan University investigates how human activities influence how microbial communities function, are distributed and interact with the surrounding ecosystem. Welcome!
|NEWS IN THE DOCHERTY LAB
I am currently looking for a Masters student to work in my laboratory investigating the influence of fire and global change on soil microbial communities. Teaching assistantships may be available starting Fall 2013.
I am currently looking for motivated undergraduate students to work on the following projects. You must have at least 8 hours to dedicate to research per week and be able to work for at least 2-3 semesters. Preference will be given to students working on a Lee Honors College thesis. Funding may be available for summer research opportunities.
- Influence of land use on freshwater microbial communities
- Abundances of antibiotic resistance plasmids in wastewater treatment plants
- Rat fecal microbial biodiversity as a function of diet
- Biodiversity of microorganisms associated with bats
- Detecting chytrid fungi from frog samples
- Human digestive tract microbial communities (reading only project)
- Human reproductive tract microbial communities (reading only project)
WORK STUDY STUDENTS:
I am looking for a responsible and motivated work-study student to work at least 5 hours per week in my laboratory. Duties will include washing and acid-washing glassware, using the autoclave to sterilize waste and preparing microbiological media.