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January 3,  2012
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SBI Research Feature: Geomicrobiology of Marine Sediment Containing Methane

Photo of Brandon Briggs at LBNL.Read a short web interview where recent PhD graduate Brandon Briggs describes his research on methane hydrates in deep marine sediments. Brandon is now a post-doc at Miami University in Ohio, and has co-authored two recent papers with his OSU doctoral adviser Rick Colwell.

Brandon's dissertation also involved research as an exchange student at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he learned to use the PhyloChip microarray to complete his project. The exchange was funded by DEBI/C-DEBI (Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations), a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Research and Coordination Network that exists to help coordinate and support deep biosphere research and to aid in the transfer of information regarding the deep biosphere's role in the global Earth system. Read more about the student exchange.

In the News

A team of Oregon scientists, including Martin Fisk and Amy Smith from OSU, has collected microbes from ice within a lava tube in the Cascade Mountains and found that they thrive in cold, Mars-like conditions. The microbes tolerate temperatures near freezing and low levels of oxygen, and they can grow in the absence of organic food. Under these conditions their metabolism is driven by the oxidation of iron from olivine, a common volcanic mineral found in the rocks of the lava tube, making the microbes capable of living in the subsurface of Mars and other planetary bodies. Read more.

National/International Events

Sunday, May 6-Wednesday, May 9 2nd International Workshop on Microbial Life under Extreme Energy Limitation (Aarhus University, Denmark).  We invite the participation of scientists and graduate students to this workshop which will bring together diverse disciplines of biochemistry, physical organic chemistry, microbiology, biogeochemistry, and bioenergetic theory. The goal is to develop our understanding of the energetic limits to microbial life, with relevance for the deep biosphere, planetary biology, and microbial ecology in general.

Monday, May 21 - Thursday, May 24
Eighth International Conference on Remediation of Chlorinated and Recalcitrant Compounds. This conference focuses on innovative application of existing or new technologies and approaches for characterization, treatment, and monitoring of chlorinated and other recalcitrant compounds in various environmental media. Abstracts due July 31, 2011. Held at Monterey, CA. FMI:

Wednesday, June 6 - Friday, June 8. Ocean Crust Processes and Consequences for Life (Dark Energy Biosphere Institute (DEBI) Research Coordination Network (RCN)). Theme: Processes in the ocean crust, from formation to subduction, and consequences for ocean-crust exchange budgets and subseafloor life. S Held at University of Bremen, Germany. FMI: Wolfgang Bach

Sunday, June 10 - Thursday, July 12. Geobiology 2012: An International Training Course in a Rapidly Evolving Field (Applications due February 17.). In this intense multidisciplinary summer course, explore the coevolution of the Earth and its biosphere, with emphasis on how microbial processes affect the environment and leave imprints on the rock record. Participants get hands-on experience in cutting-edge geobiological techniques including molecular biology, bioinformatics, geochemistry, petrology and sedimentology, and work in research groups to solve relevant questions. The course will involve a field trip to the Great Salt Lake and southern Wyoming. FMI:

Sunday, July 8 - Friday, July 13. 14th International Working Meeting on Soil Micromorphology. Held at l’Institut d’Estudis Catalans, Barcelona, Spain. FMI: .

Opportunities for Students

New course! Ed Brook and Julie Pett-Ridge are offering a new class this winter on Global Biogeochemical Cycles (cross-listed as CEOAS/CSS 699) TR, 1-2:50 in ALS 3006 for 3 credits. For more information, contact Julie Pett-Ridge.

Grant A. Harris Research Instruments Fellowship - This fellowship provides $5,000 worth of Decagon research instruments to a graduate student studying any aspect of environmental science or geotechnical science. This year the committee will be emphasizing studies that propose innovative soil and plant monitoring.  Research topics might include, but are not limited to: organic crops studies, geotechnical hazard studies, water balance studies. Six awards will be made. Applications due: January 13, 2012.

Texas A&M University is again hosting a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site funded by the National Science Foundation for 10 undergraduate students to conduct cutting-edge research in a transitional cloud forest in central Costa Rica.  Specifically, the REU site provides a unique international opportunity for students to be immersed in the practice of active inquiry and research in soil science and other topics. Deadline is January 31, 2012.

National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network Research Experience for Undergraduates Program: During the summer of 2012, this ten-week program gives chosen undergraduates hands-on nanoscience and technology experience through research, with applications to bio-engineering, chemistry, electronics, materials science, optics, optoelectronics, physics, and the life sciences. Application deadline is February 8, 2012.

2012 Summer Internships at Idaho National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory. See website for more details.

Opportunities for Faculty

(listed by due date)

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

This newsletter is distributed by OSU's Subsurface Biosphere Initiative - an interdisciplinary consortium of faculty and students who share interests in underground ecosystems. The newsletter is distributed through the SBI email lists. To subscribe or unsubscribe, go to Questions, comments and newsletter topics may be sent to the Newsletters are also available on the Web at