This site presents the many projects that I am currently undertaking. My laboratory research is largely completed and my research publications can be accessed at PubMed. My laboratory studied bacteria that live in very high temperature environments like hot springs, volcanically-heated muds, deep oil reserves, and deep sea vents. Only a few kinds of bacteria can live in the hottest of these locations. You can learn about these extreme thermophiles at my flip book page. Most of the microbes in these places belong to a group of organisms called Archaea. All these organisms can evolve by exchanging genes with one another through a process called horizontal gene transfer. We studied this process to learn how gene exchange takes place and what effects it has on the organisms.
I have been portraying Charles Darwin in schools, museums, University presentations, and public events for three years. I present Darwin’s life and work in a manner that affords a personal connection with audiences. You can learn more about these presentations at my website Charles Darwin: A Life in Stories and at my Facebook page Stories with Mr. Darwin.
Learn about Extremophiles, microbes that live in very extreme environments by reading my flip books. They are full of interesting facts and colorful images of these fascinating places. Read about organisms that live in hot places (thermophiles), salty places (halophiles), alkaline (alkalophiles) and acidic (acidophiles) sites, dry places (xenophiles), and cold regions (psychrophiles). Even read about the possibility of life on Mars, a possible haven for extremophilic life.
I am increasingly working with graduate students to help them develop better communication skills. I focus mostly on students in science and engineering, but I’m branching out to other fields since I believe that effective communication with people outside one’s field is essential for all disciplines. Visit my page where I provide resources for students to make professional posters, to make effective short conversations about their work, and to learn about other communication resources available on-line.
I provide resources for teachers interested in some of the topics of presentations that I have made for children and the public. For several years I ran a summer program for middle school children in which we explored microbes in ponds, the woods, and kitchens. On the resources page I provide the lab manual that I used in this program. I was also involved in an NSF-funded project that involved termites. As part of that I created a termite farm that kids could make to keep termites they capture in the woods or purchase. I also give instructions for its construction and tips on how to capture termites in the woods. I made a presentation about Mark Twain’s unpublished story “Three Thousand Years Among the Microbes.” At this site I provide a description of that story and provide materials that could be used to talk about this work and the state of knowledge of microbes in Twain’s time.