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Institute for Environmental Genomics


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The mission of IEG is to advance scientific research and education in environmental genomics and stimulate bio-economic development in the State of Oklahoma in order to address scientific challenges related to (i) defining gene function, (ii) delineating gene regulatory networks (iii) developing a systems-level understanding of biological systems beyond individual cells, and (iv) creating computational simulations of biological systems. 

Current Research

Three research themes are pursued at IEG:

(i) functional and comparative genomics for understanding gene function, regulation, network and evolution,

(ii) microbial ecology and community genomics for analysis of diversity, composition, structure, function and dynamics of microbial communities related to global change, bioremediation, land use, bioenergy, and agricultural practices using metagenomics approaches, such as functional gene arrays (e.g., GeoChip), high-throughput sequencing, and single cell genomics, and

(iii) development of metagenomic and bioinformatic tools for big data analysis to understand and model ecosystem functioning and stability.

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IEG Highlights

IEG Director

Dr. Jizhong Zhou

Dr. Jizhong Zhou is a George Lynn Cross Research Professor and a Presidential Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology and Director for the Institute for Environmental Genomics, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; Visiting Senior Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Adjunct Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. His expertise is in molecular biology, microbial genomics, microbial ecology, theoretical ecology and genomic technologies. His laboratory has pioneered the development and use of genomic technologies for environmental studies for which GeoChip won an R&D 100 Award in 2009. He received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2001. He received an Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award in 2014. He is a former Editor for Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a current Editor for mBio and a Senior Editor for The ISME Journal. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Zhou Appointed Senior Editor of The ISME Journal

Dr. Zhou was appointed Senior Editor for The ISME Journal.  His appointment will begin Feb. 1, 2017 and will continue for three years.  Dr. Zhou was previously a member of the Editorial Board. 

"The ISME Journal seeks to promote diverse and integrated areas of microbial ecology spanning the breadth of microbial life, including bacteria, archaea, microbial eukaryotes, and viruses."

Dr. Zhou's areas of expertise for the journal are: Metagenomics, Microbiomes, Theoretical ecology, Microbial biogeography, Experimental evolution, Genomic technologies, Soil microbial ecology, Climate change microbial ecology, Subsurface microbial ecology, Microbial ecology in engineered systems, Network microbiology, and Systems microbiology.

Dr. Zhou recipient of an Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award

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Energy Secretary Moniz announced the names of the nine recipients of the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award, which recognizes exceptional US scientists and engineers preforming research supporting the Energy Department mission. IEG Director, Jizhong Zhou, was selected as one of nine recipients.

“These mid-career researchers have made significant advances in fundamental science and technology innovation,” Secretary Moniz said. “They will help sustain America’s research and development leadership. I congratulate the winners for their outstanding achievements, thank them for their work on behalf of the Department and the Nation, and look forward to their continued accomplishments.”

Jizhong (Joe) Zhou (University of Oklahoma) - Biological and Environmental Sciences Honored for his outstanding accomplishments in environmental genomics and microbial ecology, including the development of innovative metagenomics technologies for environmental sciences, for groundbreaking discoveries to understand the feedbacks, mechanisms, and fundamental principles of microbial systems in response to environmental change, and for transformative leadership to elucidate microbial ecological networks and to link microbial biodiversity with ecosystem functions.

News and Announcements

Dr. Lauren Hale Receives VPR's Award for Exceptional Performance

April, 2017

Dr. Hale, a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Zhou lab, was recognized with the VPR's Award for Exceptional Performance by a Post-doctoral Researcher. This award is "given annually to a non-faculty post-doctoral researcher on the Norman or Tulsa Campuses across all disciplines, who is within five years of receiving their terminal degree and who has exhibited exceptional performance in their researchand/or creative activity, broadly defined." (Office of the VPR).

Dr. Hale has 3 first author publications and 9 as co-author. She was a Moderator and Session Organizer for the Microbial Responses to Climate Changes and Predictability of Ecosystem Functioning session at the 2016 Annual Ecological Society of America Meeting. She has been a mentor for graduate research associates in the lab, is a certified Intergroup Dialogue Facilitator and the co-founder of the Association for Women in Science - Oklahoma chapter.


New Publications

Zhou, JZ, Y Deng, L Shen, C Wen , Q Yan, D Ning, Y Qin, K Xue, L Wu, Z He, JW Voordeckers, JD Van Nostrand, V Buzzard, ST Michaletz, BJ Enquist, MD Weiser, M Kaspari, R Waide, Y Yang, JH Brown. Temperature mediates continental-scale diversity of microbes in forest soils. Nat Comm. In press.

Huang C, Q Liu, C Chen, F Chen, YK Zhao, LF Gao, WZ Liu, JZ Zhou, ZL Li, AJ Wang. Elemental sulfur recovery and spatial distribution of functional bacteria and expressed genes under different carbon/nitrate/sulfide loadings in up-flow anaerobic sludge blanket reactors. J Haz Mat. In press.

Trivedi P, M Delgado-Baquerizo, C Trivedi, H Hu, IC Anderson, TC Jeffries, J Zhou, and BK Singh. Microbial regulation of the soil carbon cycle: evidence from gene–enzyme relationships. ISME J. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2016.65

Yan Q, J Li, J Wang, Z He, JD Van Nostrand, ML Kempher, L Wu, Y Wang, L Liao, X Li, S Wu, J Ni, C Wang, J Zhou. Environmental filtering decreases with fish development for the assembly of gut microbiota. Environ Microbiol. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.13365.