Mike moves on to a postdoc in the Coleman Lab

Mike is leaving us to join Maureen Coleman’s lab at the University of Chicago beginning in 2020. We’re thrilled that he has cultivated (pun intended) such an excellent opportunity and look forward to seeing the great work that comes from his time in the Coleman Lab. Mike leaves behind an impressive legacy: over 400 axenic cultures from a diverse set of coastal bacterioplankton groups, including LD12 and other SAR11 subclades; a well-trained cadre of students who can all thank him for helping them achieve their level of proficiency; numerous upgraded techniques and protocols; and of course several excellent manuscripts. Mike had three first-author publications before he graduated, one this year, and will likely have two more from his dissertation research (stay tuned for more as good stuff is on the way, and see the Publications page for details). The isolates he generated are also the basis for several upcoming papers from other students in the lab like Celeste and Jordan. We are all in your debt Mike, and no one more than me. Your hard work and dedication during your time in the lab was massively instrumental to our success thus far, and the results of your efforts here will carry forward for many years. Thank you from all of us, and best of luck in your new position.

Welcome Chuankai to the lab!

Extending a warm welcome to Chuankai Cheng, our newest Ph.D. student, who has just started as an MBBO student this semester. Chuankai did a Masters with Bernhard Palsson at USCD, and has published a stimulating paper modeling overflow metabolism in E. coli from that work. He also has participated in developing an algorithm to cluster Hi-C data. Most recently he worked in Terry Hwa‘s lab, and is now part of our team. We’re thrilled to have you Chuankai and looking forward to some great science!

We’re recruiting Ph.D. students!

You could be here…
And anywhere here…
And here. USC at dawn just outside our building.
Or even here. A view of the main lab space and postdoc/student office shortly before move-in.

The Thrash Lab is recruiting Ph.D. students to begin in summer/fall 2020 through the USC Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography graduate program. Projects could span a variety of topics including high-throughput cultivation and genomics of new marine bacterioplankton, investigating microbial interactions with synthetic marine communities, fundamental evolutionary constraints on growth rates, biological growth efficiencies, riverine microbial ecology, and even hydrocarbon degradation. Techniques you could learn include flow-cytometry and FACS, FACS-enabled targeted cultivation, comparative (meta)genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, aerobic and anaerobic cultivation, and possibly many others via the rich collaborative opportunities within USC and in the southern California region. 

The MBBO program admits students directly to specific labs (no rotations), so if you are interested in doing your Ph.D. with us, please contact Cameron with your project thoughts, questions, and a current CV. Also check out our personnel expectations on the Opportunities page.

Thrash Lab research at ASM

We’re heading to ASM Microbe 2019 this week and both Celeste and Mike are presenting unpublished results of their current research. Mike is giving a talk and both have posters are in the AES session on Sunday 6/23:

AES-1090: Comparative Genomics and Physiology Using New Isolates Supports Niche Differentiation within Coastal SAR11 Subclade IIIa – V. Celeste Lanclos

AES-1101: Large Scale High-Throughput Cultivation Insights into the Culturabilty and Ecosystem Functions of Important Coastal Bacterioplankton – Michael W. Henson

Mike’s talk is in S324 – Anchoring Microbes to Biogeochemical Function (Sunday 6/23 1:30-4:00pm), with a host of other excellent scientists like Kelly Wrighton, Romy Chakraborty, Alex Greenlon, Paul Carini, and Roland Hatzenpichler. Large Scale High-Throughput Cultivation Insights into the Culturabilty and Ecosystem Functions of Important Coastal Bacterioplankton – Michael W. Henson

I’ll also be co-hosting a plenary session with Kelly Wrighton on Friday 6/21: S019 – Moving Beyond the Omics Crystal Ball: Functional Validation of Genome-enabled Predictions

Mike Graduated!

Although Mike defended and had all his paperwork in for finishing his Ph.D. last year, the timing was such that he needed to wait to walk until the May graduation ceremony, which was last week on May 10th. It was a typical southern Louisiana spring morning- thunderstorms with tons of rain, followed by a steam-off as the sun roasted Baton Rouge. Everything dried out, as it always does. Mike had quite an entourage – his mother and father, brothers, sister-in-law, Celeste, Jordan, and former students Emily and Anna. I wasn’t originally scheduled to be there, but I thought I’d surprise him, and Brant Faircloth covered for me for a couple months. Congratulations Dr. Henson! We’re very proud of you and look forward to seeing all the wonderful things you’ll do moving forward.

Celeste and Jordan receive accolades

This has been a productive month for Celeste and Jordan!

Celeste received an Honorable Mention for her Graduate Research Fellowship Program application, and had her abstract selected for a talk at the Southern California Geobiology Symposium at Cal Tech. It was her first talk and she crushed it.

Cameron, Alex, Celeste, and Jordan after Celeste’s talk at the SoCal Geobiology Symposium

Jordan received the Biology Outstanding Teaching Award for her services to BISC 307 (Human Physiology)- not even her area of study!

Jordan with her award (photo stolen from her Twitter feed)

Great job both of you! We’re very proud of your accomplishments so far.

February update- making a home at USC

The lab has moved to USC and we’re slowly getting up and running. Ken Nealson has graciously provided us with temporary space in his laboratory. We’ve figured out how to order things, located most of the light switches, gone through our safety trainings, and even have wet lab operations going again. Mike and Alex went on the SPOT cruise last week (look for an upcoming blog post on that) and began our first high-throughput cultivation experiment with surface and DCM water. Those are incubating as I write, and the new isolates will inaugurate our USC Culture Collection (US3C for convenience). Jordan, Mike, and Celeste have also been sequencing genomes with our Oxford Nanopore MinION for the last couple weeks, generating a deluge of new As, Ts, Cs, and Gs. We’re watching as the lab space comes together, which is an exciting process.

It’s also an El Niño season, so southern California has been a bit wetter than usual. However, snow in the San Gabriel mountains makes a magnificent backdrop for Los Angeles. And El Niño is roughly translated by some in SoCal to mean “great surf.” I was at UCSD during the 1997-1998 El Niño season, and I remember watching Black’s at triple overhead from the safety of the cliffs. I also remember getting bounced off the bottom after taking a big set on the head at Boomer’s in La Jolla…but that’s a story for a different time.

Blacks. Photo: McGuinness (https://www.surfer.com/el-ninos-relentless-perfection/)

For now, I’ll just leave you with a sunrise photo from the USC quad a few weeks ago.