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We’re heading to ASM Microbe 2019 this week and both Celeste and Mike are presenting unpublished results of their current research.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.

Emily graduates with honors

Emily Nall, an undergraduate researcher in our lab for 4 1/2 years, graduated from LSU yesterday Summa Cum Laude. She also received the University Medal and was one of only two students to receive the College Honors distinction for completing all of her honors coursework as well as successfully writing and defending an Honors Thesis. She had quite a bit of hardware! We’re so proud of you Emily. Thanks for all you’ve done for the lab and we wish you the best in the future.

Mike successfully defends his Dissertation

Last Friday, on the last day of November, 2018, Mike Henson successfully defended his dissertation, entitled High-Throughput Cultivation of Bacterioplankton from the Gulf of Mexico and Genomics of the First Cultured LD12 Representative. It was a sunny, beautiful morning and Mike had a great turnout. His dissertation contains three data chapters, two of which have already been published (Henson et al. mSphere 2016; Henson et al. ISME J 2018), and a third that is nearing submission. These chapters describe improvements we made to the dilution-based cultivation protocol pioneered by Don Button and colleagues and enhanced to a high-throughput format by Steve Giovannoni and many of his former students and post-docs (including yours truly). It also quantifies the relative efficacy of our cultivation work by strain, explores why cultivation effectiveness might differ across taxa, and highlights the added cultivar diversity contributed by Mike’s efforts over the years. The dissertation also includes an in-depth exploration of the genomics of the first cultivated LD12 representative, which Mike has previously posted about below. Mike also has another first-author publication on the microbiome of the Mississippi River (Henson et al. L&O 2018) that is not included in the dissertation. So in short, Mike has three first authored publications after 4.5 years of graduate school, and has two in the pipe, combined with many other co-authorships. Mike was also able to secure two different grants during his time here at LSU. He will be coming with the lab to USC for a one year postdoc to finish his projects and help get us rolling there. We’re very happy we don’t have to say goodbye to Mike yet!