I am a microbiologist specializing in microbial ecology and using metagenomic-enabled approaches to study communities of microorganisms in a variety of environments.
I began my career as a microbiologist studying the cellulose-degrading capabilities of bacteria from production livestock, making extensive use of anaerobic cultivation buoyed by the then emerging area of comparative microbial genomics. My interest in understanding mammalian gastrointestinal function has expanded since then by my ongoing research in environmental systems (subsurface and topsoil systems) using metagenomics. Although the scales are vastly different between the two, many of the approaches I use in both gastrointestinal and field research are steeped in classical ecological theory and serve to circumnavigate the complex microbial communities underlying system function.
Currently, my research team is actively involved in applying next (“now”)-generation DNA sequencing technologies to describing both the structure and function of microbial communities in these systems and we take advantage of the computational resources available at Argonne for handling the scale of data afforded by these technologies.
In addition to my duties at Argonne, I am also an Assistant Professor in the Section of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago and am Director of the Enteric Microbiology Component of the Digestive Diseases Research Core Center there. My joint appointment between the two institutions enables interactions between the clinical and next generation DNA sequencing-enabled approaches to understand the microbial world.