We’re moving

Although many have already heard the news, I think it’s time to make an official announcement and fill in a few details. After five and a half very good years here at LSU, the lab is moving to the University of Southern California. Starting in January 2019, we’ll be joining the Marine and Environmental Biology section of the Department of Biological Sciences, in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. In addition to a strong emphasis on marine microbiology and biogeochemistry, MEB has close connections with the Geobiology faculty in the Department of Earth Sciences and the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI). As part of this transdisciplinary group, we will continue to investigate microbial functions and ecology in aquatic systems, and advance our emphasis on combining cultivation with ‘omics methodologies. Our high-througput culturing protocol will get some upgrades, and we’ll be adding Pacific Ocean prokaryotes to our culture collection. I’m personally very grateful to the support we’ve received here at LSU over the years, and I know I will remember our time in Baton Rouge fondly. We are also very excited to become part of the USC family and join the close collaborative atmosphere among the related micro, geo, chem, and physics faculty.

Summer Thrash Lab Events

The lab is active this summer. I spoke at ASM’s Microbe2018 in Atlanta and just returned from presenting a poster at the Marine Microbes GRC in beautiful Barga, Italy. Mike is heading to ISME17 in Leipzig, Germany to present his work later this month. Mike, Celeste, and I have also been traipsing all over southern Louisiana in support of our NSF-funded project to unravel lineage-specific evolutionary adaptations to alternative salinity regimes in coastal SAR11 bacterioplankton. Every month we cover over 800 miles to get to our four coastal sites.

We also welcome Jordan Coelho to the lab as our newest Ph.D. student! Jordan just finished a second bachelors degree, this time in microbiology, from Oregon State University and worked in the lab of Kim Halsey. Later this month we’ll be joined by Alex Hyer, another Ph.D. student coming from the University of Utah. He worked in the lab of William Brazelton and is currently doing a summer internship with NASA! We’re excited to have you both with us, Jordan and Alex.

Emily wins the Socolofsky Award

Congratulations Emily on four years of hard work that have been recognized with the Socolofsky Award for undergraduate microbiology research. Some more on the award from the LSU Biological Sciences Undergraduate Student Awards website:

“The recipient shall be a Senior and shall be a full-time student engaged in a research project with one of the faculty members who is conducting microbiological research. This award recognizes significant research accomplishments, particularly presentations at scientific meetings or co-authorship of journal manuscripts.”

Emily is the second Thrash Lab undergraduate to receive this award. Her work on the OM252 clade (LSUCC0096) will be the subject of her Honors Thesis and is set to be a first authorship paper. Great work Emily! We’re so lucky to have you in the lab!


Mike wins McDaniel Travel Award to attend #ISME17

Congratulations to Mike on winning the LSU Biological Sciences McDaniel Travel Award! 1000 clams goes a long way! Some notes on this memorial award, from the LSU Graduate Student Awards website:

“The McDaniel Travel Award is a competitive award that memoralizes Michael McDaniel, a promising graduate student who  died tragically in the second year of his PhD program.  Established by his family and given semi-annually the award funds travel expenses for graduate students to attend national or international meetings in the Biological Sciences and to present a paper or poster on the graduate research of the students.”

Mike will use this prestigious award to help him present at #ISME17 in Leipzig, Germany.


Thrash Lab presentations at Ocean Sciences

We’re going to Ocean Sciences in Portland next week. Both Celeste and Mike have posters on Thursday, February 15th from 1600-1800:

MM44A-1512: The Ecology, Physiology, and Genomic Analysis of Novel SAR11 Isolates

MM44A-1513: Cultivation, genomics, and characterization of the first isolate from the freshwater SAR11 clade LD12

Session MM44A: Functional, Ecological, and Evolutionary Implications of Microdiversity and Intraspecific Variability in Aquatic Microorganisms I.


Diving the Dead Zone

Back in August, I accompanied Nancy Rabalais and LUMCON dive safety officer Ben Acker on a dive trip to station C6C. That location is an oil platform south of Terrebonne Bay with equipment for monitoring water conditions such as temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen. I’ve posted before about our work there exchanging equipment and taking samples. I’m involved with the LUMCON dive team through my continued collaboration with Nancy in researching seasonal hypoxia (a.k.a. the Dead Zone) in the region. For example, see our most recent paper on dead zone microbiology. The purpose of this particular trip was to show CBS News the heart of the Dead Zone. Nancy’s recent NOAA-sponsored hypoxia cruise (see Celeste’s trip report) revealed that this year’s zone of hypoxia was the largest ever, and it has attracted a lot of attention as a result. Below is the full-length GoPro footage of the dive, in three parts. A big chunk of the second and third parts are in blackness, at the bottom of the dive, where we searched, in vain, for a lost piece of equipment. But there is some beautiful footage of the rest of the water column if you scroll through the individual videos. A portion of this was included in the CBS News profile. UPDATE 10/4/17: Times-Picayune reporter Sara Sneath found this post and put together a cool summary and link for us at NOLA.com.