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May 4, 2009
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SBI Research Feature: Monitoring Soil Microbial Communities as an Indicator of Soil Quality

A series of recent and forthcoming journal articles describe how studies of soil microbial communities might provide early warning signs of declines in soil quality. The studies are the work of Guilherme Chaer, a 2008 soil science graduate student from Brazil and his thesis advisors, professors Dave Myrold and Peter BottomleyRead a short Web interview where Dave and Peter discuss the concept of soil quality, its link to soil microbiology and Guilherme Chaer's research at OSU.


Save the Date

The SBI will hold its annual summer workshop on Thursday and Friday, July 23 and 24 at the Lasells Stewart Center.   Please plan to attend!   Watch this newsletter and the SBI Web page for details.


Upcoming Campus Events

Monday, May 4, 4:00 p.m., ALS 4000. Biochemical Perspectives on Soil Organic Matter Structure, Humification, and Function in Soil Processes (SBI/CSS Seminar). Speaker: Dan Olk, Soil Scientist, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Ames, Iowa. FMI: Markus Kleber.

Wednesday, May 6, 3:00 p.m. Diversity in Marine Nitrogen Fixation: Is Everything Everywhere and Does the Environment Matter?. Pia Moisander, UC Santa Cruz, candidate for the position of assistant professor in environmental microbiology. Held on campus at ALS 4000. FMI:

Monday, May 11, 2:00 p.m., location TBA. Environmental Microbiology Assistant Professor Candidate Seminar. Speaker: Bethany Jenkins, University of Rhode Island. FMI:

Wednesday, May 13, 2:00 p.m., location TBA. Environmental Microbiology Assistant Professor Candidate Seminar. Speaker: Ben Griffin, Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois. FMI:

Monday, May 18, 2:00 p.m., ALS 4001. Microbial Responses to Environmental Change: Linking Microbial Physiology, Community Composition, and Ecosystem Function with the Molecular Toolbox. Speaker: Matt Wallenstein, Colorado State University, candidate for the position of assistant professor in environmental microbiology. FMI:

Monday, May 18 4:00 p.m., ALS 4000. Polyphenols and Soil Organic Matter Dynamics (SBI/CSS Seminar). Speaker: Bruce Caldwell, Senior Faculty Research Assistant, Botany and Plant Pathology. FMI: Markus Kleber.

Monday, June 1 4:00 p.m., ALS 4000. The Future of Soil Organic Matter Research (SBI/CSS Seminar). Speaker: Margaret Torn, Program Head, Climate and Carbon Sciences, Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Adjunct Associate Professor, Energy and Resources, UC Berkeley. Held on campus at ALS 4000. FMI: Markus Kleber.


Conference Information

Sunday, May 10 - Thursday, May 14, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. International Conference on Nutrient Recovery from Wastewater Streams. Speakers include Dr. James Barnard (2007 Clarke Prize), Robert F Kennedy (Chief Prosecuting Attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper and President of Waterkeeper Alliance). Technical visits including full-scale struvite recovery installations operating in municipal sewage works in Canada, USA, stream and reservoir fertilisation project.

July 5-10 2009, University of Louisville, Kentucky, USA. 1st International Conference on Nitrification. The first International Conference on Nitrification (ICoN1) is meant to be the start of a tradition of bringing together investigators and students at all levels to discuss the most recent concepts in nitrification research. The meeting will present and discuss reports on the ecology, physiology, biochemistry, molecular genetics, genomics, metagenomics, transcriptomics and evolution of ammonia- and nitrite-oxidizing bacteria and archaea, and their roles in the nitrogen cycle. Abstracts due: May 29, 2009. Some travel grants are available.

July 26 - 31, Waterville Valley, NH. Gordon Research Conference on Archaea: Ecology, Metabolism and Molecular Biology. Expands on a number of emerging topics highlighting new paradigms in archaeal metabolism, genome function and systems biology; information processing; evolution and the tree of life; the ecology and diversity of archaea and their viruses; and industrial applications. Brings more than 35 internationally renowned speakers who will review the current state of progress and knowledge in the field of the metabolism, molecular biology and ecology of archaea. Applications for this meeting must be submitted by July 5, 2009, but early application is recommended.

Link to a calendar of other related events...


Opportunities for Students

Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences Research Experiences for Undergraduates - This program will support eight fellowships for undergraduate student involvement in research at BIOS during the fall semester (arrive: September 2, 2009 - depart on November 25, 2009). The Station is an independent U.S. marine research and educational institution near the town of St. George's on the island of Bermuda. Research areas include: the biology, chemistry and physics of the open ocean; the biology, physiology, and biochemistry of reef-building corals and reef ecosystems; aspects of the molecular biology of marine organisms; the environmental chemistry of Bermuda's atmosphere and inshore waters; and the effects and consequences of global environmental change. Each fellow will receive a stipend and travel expenses will be covered by the program. Applications due May 30, 2009.

Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Grants - For projects that further the Lindberghs' vision of a balance between the advance of technology and the preservation of the natural/ human environment. Lindbergh Grants are made in the following categories: (1) agriculture; (2) aviation/aerospace; (3) conservation of natural resources, including animals, plants, water, and general conservation (land, air, energy, etc.); (4) education, including humanities/education, the arts, and intercultural communication; (5) exploration; (6) health, including biomedical research, health and population sciences, and adaptive technology; and (7) waste minimization and management. Grants are awarded for up to $10,580 each (the cost of building the Spirit of St. Louis in 1927). Applications due June 11, 2009.

NSF Earth Sciences Postdoctoral Fellowships (EAR-PF). These fellowships are awarded to highly qualified investigators within 3 years of obtaining their PhD to carry out an integrated program of independent research and education. The program supports researchers for a period of up to 2 years with fellowships that can be taken to the institution or national facility of their choice. The program is intended to recognize beginning investigators of significant potential, and provide them with experience in research and education that will establish them in leadership positions in the Earth Sciences community. Because the fellowships are offered only to postdoctoral scientists early in their career, doctoral advisors are encouraged to discuss the availability of EAR fellowships with their graduate students early in their doctoral programs. Fellowships are awards to individuals, not institutions, and are administered by the Fellows. Proposals due July 1, 2009.


Opportunities for Faculty

(listed by due date)

Preproposal due: 19 May 2009. NSF Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education (Full Proposal due: 29 June 2009).

Description: This program provides funding for graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines to bring their leading research practice and findings into K-12 learning settings. Funding can be used for graduate student fellowships, K-12 teacher professional development and program development at the university to enhance graduate education.
Funding Details: Up to $600k for five years.

1 June 2009. NSF Hydrologic Science.

Description: Hydrologic Sciences focuses on the flow of water and transport processes within streams, soils, and aquifers. Particular attention is given to spatial and temporal heterogeneity of fluxes and storages of water and chemicals over a wide range of scales, to geolimnology and to interfaces with the landscape, microbial communities, and coastal areas. Studies may also deal with processes in aqueous geochemistry and with the physical, chemical, and biological processes within water bodies. Study of these processes requires expertise from many basic sciences and mathematics, and proposals often require joint review with related programs.

29 June 2009. NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences - Research Coordination Networks in Biological Sciences (RCN).

Description: The goal of this program is to encourage and foster interactions among scientists to create new research directions or advance a field. Innovative ideas for implementing novel networking strategies are especially encouraged. Groups of investigators will be supported to communicate and coordinate their research, training and educational activities across disciplinary, organizational, institutional, and geographical boundaries. The proposed networking activities should have a theme as a focus of its collaboration. The focus could be on a broad research question, a specific group of organisms, or particular technologies or approaches.

Preproposal due: 30 June 2009. NASA NSPIRES ROSES New Investigator Program in Earth Science (Full Proposal due: 31 August 2009).

Description: All NIP proposals must contain both a research element that addresses one of the topical areas identified below, as well as a significant program of education and public outreach (E/PO) activities and/or interdisciplinary endeavors from which the community of practitioners in Earth, space, and environmental sciences can benefit. The research Focus Areas appropriate for the NIP are: Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems, Climate Variability and Change, Water and Energy Cycle, Atmospheric Composition, Weather, and Earth Surface and Interior.
Funding Details: $80-$120K per year for a period of up to three years.

9 July 2009. NSF Biological Sciences - Ecosystem Science Cluster - Ecosystem Studies Program.

Description: Supports investigations of whole-system ecological processes and relationships in ecosystems across a diversity of spatial and temporal (including paleo) scales. Proposals may focus on areas such as: biogeochemistry; decomposition of organic matter; belowground nutrient cycling and energy flow; primary productivity; radiatively active gas flux; element budgets on watershed, regional, continental, or global scales; relationships between diversity and ecosystem function; ecosystem services; and landscape dynamics. Inter- and multi-disciplinary proposals that fall across traditional programmatic boundaries are welcomed and encouraged.

9 July 2009. Long Term Research in Environmental Biology (LTREB).

Description: Through the LTREB program, the Division of Environmental Biology encourages the submission of proposals aimed at generating extended time series of biological and environmental data that address ecological and evolutionary processes aimed at resolving important issues in environmental biology. Researchers must have collected at least six years of previous data to qualify for funding. The proposal also must present a cohesive conceptual rationale or framework for ten years of research. Questions or hypotheses outlined in this conceptual framework must guide an initial 5-year proposal as well as a subsequent, abbreviated renewal. Together, these will constitute a decadal research plan appropriate to begin to address critical and novel long-term questions in environmental biology. As part of the requirements for funding, projects must show how collected data will be shared broadly with the scientific community and the interested public.

9 July 2009. NSF Opportunities for Promoting Understanding through Synthesis (OPUS) .

Description: Three clusters within the Division of Environmental Biology (the Ecological Biology, Ecosystem Science, and the Population and Evolutionary Processes clusters) encourage the submission of proposals aimed at synthesizing a body of related research projects conducted by a single individual or group of investigators over an extended period. OPUS proposals will often be appropriately submitted in mid-to-late career, but will also be appropriate early enough in a career to produce unique, integrated insight useful both to the scientific community and to the development of the investigator's future work. In cases where multiple scientists have worked collaboratively, an OPUS award will provide support for collaboration on a synthesis. OPUS awards will facilitate critical synthesis, and do so in a way that will acknowledge the prestige of this important component of scientific scholarship.

16 July 2009. NSF Division of Earth Sciences - Geobiology and Low-Temperature Geochemistry Program.

Description: This program encourages studies of 1) the interactions between biological and geological systems at all scales of space and time; 2) geomicrobiology and biomineralization processes; 3) the role of life in the evolution of the Earth's system; 4) inorganic and organic geochemical processes occurring at or near the earth's surface now and in the past, and at the broad spectrum of interfaces ranging in scale from planetary and regional to mineral-surface and supramolecular; 5) mineralogy and chemistry of soils and sediments; 6) surficial chemical and biogeochemical systems and cycles and their modification through natural and anthropogenic change; and 7) development of tools, methods, and models for low-temperature geochemistry and geobiological research. GG facilitates cross-disciplinary efforts to harness new bioanalytical tools - such as those emerging from molecular biology - in the study of the terrestrial environment.

30 September 2009 (deadline extended). DOE Science Financial Assistance Program, Biological and Environmental Research Program.

Description: All grant applications should address one or more of these measures: Life Sciences: Provide the fundamental scientific understanding of plants and microbes necessary to develop new robust and transformational basic research strategies for producing biofuels, cleaning up waste, and sequestering carbon. Environmental Remediation: Provide sufficient scientific understanding such that DOE sites would be able to incorporate coupled physical, chemical and biological processes into decision making for environmental remediation and long-term stewardship. Climate Change Research: Deliver improved scientific data and models about the potential response of the Earth's climate and terrestrial biosphere to increased greenhouse gas levels for policy makers to determine safe levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This program received supplemental funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The SBI has funding available for proposal development and maintains a list of external grant opportunities related to the subsurface biosphere.

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