My research interests are focused on soil microbial ecology and the role of management in affecting the functioning of soils within ecosystems. The common research approach is biochemical properties and processes in combination with microbial community analysis. The research has focused on the effects of physical disturbance and organic C inputs on soil ecology of soil communities. Methodologies that have been used extensively are enzyme activities, microbial biomass, direct counts and functional diversity (BIOLOG). Profiling of microbial communities methods include phospholipid (PLFA) and PCR based nucleic acid analysis. My lab is doing in-depth studies using stable isotopic probing techniques for tracking 13C into PLFA biomarkers during decomposition and methane cycling in soils.
The primary goal is to better understand the ecology of soils to manipulate the soil microbial community to improve soil functions, and optimize ecosystem productivity and sustainability. Current research efforts are concentrating on microbial ecology in relation to long-term use of glyphosate in glyphosate tolerant cropping systems, disease suppression of soil borne diseases, methane oxidation, and C sequestration in agricultural, forest soils, and semi-arid soils of West Africa. In tandem with these studies, and building on 10 years of experience, research continues on development of soil quality indicators with emphasis on soil enzyme assays. Soil quality indicators are needed for: land managers to guide sustainable ecosystem management; public and regulatory personnel to quantify investments in conservation and ecosystem improvement; and quantifying degraded or polluted soils.
I am heading up several International activities on soil enzymology. This includes being a co-PI on a NSF funded Research Coordination Network that is managing international interactions on research in Enzymes in the Environment (http://enzymes.nrel.colostate.edu
). I am also Executive Chair for the International Conference; Enzymes in the Environment: Ecology, Activity and Applications, which will be held in Whales, 2015. Another current project is as editor of a new book to be published by the Soil Science Society of America entitled "Methods in Soil Enzymology" which will be the first comprehensive methods book on this topic.
Current Research Projects
Remediation of Brownfield Soils
Biomethlyation of Arsenic in Soils