Related Programs

Earth’s Subsurface Biosphere Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (ESB-IGERT)

This interdisciplinary doctoral program, which ended in 2008, brought together students with interests in microbiology, geology, and engineering to work in the emerging new field of geomicrobiology. It was jointly operated by Oregon State and Portland State University and had associations with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Idaho National Laboratory. The program was funded by a $2.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation IGERT program and was directed by Martin Fisk, professor of Marine Geology and Geophysics at OSU, and in the last year by David Myrold, professor in Crop and Soil Science. Nineteen faculty who are associated with the Subsurface Biosphere Initiative are also affiliated with the IGERT Program.

Photo of student working in lab.
Western Region Hazardous Substance Research Center (WRHSRC)

This EPA-funded center developed in situ treatment methods for cleanup of hazardous substances, with a major focus on bioremediation. The center was a partnership between Oregon State University and Stanford University and was headquartered at Oregon State University with Dr. Lewis Semprini serving as the center director. The center was  funded at a level of $1.1 million per year for five years but ended one year earlier due to EPA budget cuts by the Bush Administration. Many of the faculty associated with the Subsurface Biosphere Initiative performed research related to the bioremediation of hazardous substances and were affiliated with the WRHSRC.

H. J. Andrews Long-term Ecological Research Site (HJA-LTER)

The H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest was established in 1948. During its first 20 years, research focused on management effects on watersheds, soils, and vegetation. In the 1970's it was a center for ecosystem research as part of the International Biological Programme-Coniferous Forest Biome. In 1980, the Forest became a member of the first cohort of the National Science Foundation's Long-term Ecological Research sites and research emphasis moved towards interdisciplinary studies. With more than 50 years of research history, the 6400-ha site is a valuable resource for subsurface biosphere studies. Examples include studies of nutrient cycling in the hyporheic zones of streams, long-term decomposition studies of coarse woody debris, nitrogen and carbon cycling in soils, and diversity of soil microorganisms.

Photo of research team in the field.
Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP)

Marine hydrothermal vents were discovered by OSU scientists in 1977. This discovery revealed an ecosystem driven by the Earth’s chemical energy and suggested that a subsurface biosphere existed beneath the ocean floor. IODP is an international program to collect subseafloor samples with ocean going drilling ships, and one primary goal of IODP is to understand the abundance and variety of microbes below the sea floor and their impact on cycling of key elements such as carbon, calcium, sulfur, iron and other metals between the oceans and the sea floor. Martin Fisk, professor of Marine Geology and Geophysics at OSU has been an advocate and participant in outfitting the drilling ship with a microbiology lab and was one of the first to use the lab to determine abundance of microbes in the sea floor.

Ocean Drilling vessel
NSF–Genome Enabled Grant
Daniel Arp, professor of botany and plant pathology and six other investigators on campus received funding in 2004 for a 5 year, $2M project funded by the Enabled Investigations of Environmental and Engineered Systems division of the Biocomplexity program at the National Science Foundation. The project involved an examination of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (subsurface microorganisms) in waste water treatment. These bacteria are critical to the removal of nitrogen from waste water, but are also susceptible to inhibition by a variety of compounds in the wastewater stream. Modern genomics approaches were used to identify genes in these bacteria that serve as indicators of the status of nitrogen transformations.