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Day 2

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iFAST Microbial Ecology - Day 2

Environmental Microbiology & Ecosystem

Date: Apr. 5, 2022

Time:  10:00 am - 12:30 pm U.S. EDT
            2:00 pm - 4:30 pm GMT
            10:00 pm - (Apr. 5) 12:30 am China

U.S. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)

* The webinar will generally open 30 min earlier (9:30 EDT) for panelists and start broadcasting 10 min earlier (9:50 EDT).

10:00 am - 10:10 am


Charles (Chuck) Rice joined K-State in 1988 and is a University Distinguished Professor and holds the Vanier University Professorship at Kansas State University.  He is a Professor of Soil Microbiology in the Department of Agronomy.  He has received over $35 million in research grants, has advised over 50 graduate students and 18 post-doctorates and has over 225 publications.  Dr. Rice has also served in numerous capacities with professional societies, including President of the Soil Science Society of America in 2011. Internationally, he served on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to author a report on Climate Change in 2007 and 2014 and was among scientists recognized when that work won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He is a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2020, Dr. Rice received the title of “National Associate” of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Dr. Rice chairs the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources of the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

10:10 am - 10:40 am

The Democracy of Dirt:  Relating Micro-Scale Dynamics to Macro-Scale Ecosystem Function

Josh Schimel is a Professor of Soil and Ecosystem Ecology. He received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley with Mary Firestone, and then after postdocs at the University of Aberdeen and Michigan State University, he became an assistant professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks before moving to the University of California Santa Barbara where he has been since. His work has emphasized arctic ecology and soil moisture effects on microbial processes. 

10:40 am - 10:55 am

Disease Suppression: Composition, Complexity or Functional Capacity of Soil Microbiomes

Dr Gupta V.S.R. Vadakattu is a Senior Principal Research Scientist in CSIRO Agriculture & Food at the Waite campus in Adelaide, South Australia.

Received undergraduate and master's degrees in India and Ph.D. degree in Soil Microbiology from the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.

More than 25 years of experience in the fundamental and applied field based functional microbial ecology research in soil and water ecosystems in Australia, Canada and India. Specific research interests include unraveling the complexities of microbial diversity, functional capability and resilience of microbe-soil-plant interactions as a key for developing sustainable agricultural systems.

Awarded the Prescott Medal by the Soil Science Society of Australia in 2015 for outstanding contribution to Soil Science.

10:55 am - 11:10 am

Chloroflexi in Wastewater Treatment Systems: Threats or Guardians of the Ecosystem?

Microbial Ecology Laboratory
Department of Biochemistry and Genomics
Biological Research Institute Clemente Estable

Head of the Microbial Ecology Laboratory, Department of Biochemistry and Microbial Genomics, Biological Research Institute Clemente Estable, Montevideo, Uruguay.
PhD in Chemistry, University of the Republic, Uruguay (2001). Research internships at Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain) University of Ghent (Belgium), Michigan State University (US) and INRA (France).
Expert in Microbiology of systems to recover energy from wastes and wastewaters (hydrogen, methane, electricity). Molecular biology applied to understand the Microbial Ecology of wastewater treatment systems.
Member of the Latin America Biohydrogen Network, Latin America Anaerobic Digestion IWA group, MEWE, former senior ASM ambassador, former president of the Uruguayan Microbiology Society. Collaboration with research groups from Latin America, Europe and USA. MiDAS project and the Global Water Microbiome Consortium participant. 




11:10 am - 11:25 am

Antibiotics Resistance Genes as Emerging Pollutants from Wastewater Treatment Plants

Dr. Tong ZHANG is a Chair Professor of Environmental Engineering in Environmental Microbiome Engineering and Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Civil Engineering, at The University of Hong Kong (HKU). He got his Bachelor and Master degrees in Environmental Science and Engineering from Nanjing University, and his Ph.D. degree in Environmental Engineering from The University of Hong Kong. He has been an Adjunct Professor at School of Environment and Energy at Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School since October of 2020, and a visiting scholar at Institute of Chemical Biology, Shenzhen Bay Laboratory since January of 2021. His researches include environmental microbiome engineering and biotechnology, environmental bioinformatics, anaerobic digestion and bioenergy from wastes/wastewater, biological wastewater treatment (N removal and P recovery), biodegradation of emerging pollutants (antibiotics, PPCP and EDCs), antibiotic and antibiotic resistance genes, etc.  He has published 280 peer-reviewed papers on the above topics, and has more than 27, 000 citations and an H index of 91 (Google Scholar). He has been an associate editor of Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology from 2017-2022, and serves as a senior editor of Microbiome. He had served as an advisor for BGI (Beijing Genomics Institute) on Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology from 2011 to 2014. He had been Yi Xing Chair Professor of Nanjing University from 2013 to 2016, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Southern University of Science and Technology from 2017 to 2020, and Honorary Professor in School of Public Health of HKU from 2018 to 2020. He got First-Class Award in Natural Science (China Ministry of Education) in 2015, Second-Class Award State Natural Science Award (China State Council) in 2016, Outstanding Research Student Supervisor Award of HKU in 2017, Outstanding Research Award of HKU in 2020, and HKU Innovator Award in 2021. He has been listed as “Highly Cited Researcher” by Clarivate in 2018 (Cross Field), 2019 (Environment and Ecology), both 2020 and 2021 (Environment and Ecology; Microbiology).

(5 min break)

11:30 am - 11:45 am

Microplastic Hotspots for Microbial Reductive Dehalogenation

Dr. Jianzhong He is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the National University of Singapore.  She received her Ph.D. degree at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2003 from Professor Frank Löffler’s lab.  Prior to that, she obtained her M.S. and B.S. degrees from Tsinghua University and Harbin Institute of Technology in 1998 and 1995, respectively.  She was a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Lisa Alvarez-Cohen’s lab at the University of California Berkeley for two years before joining the National University of Singapore as an assistant professor in 2005.  Dr. He’s research focuses on discovering novel microorganisms to transform and detoxify environmental contaminants, enhancing biodegradation by optimizing the growth of functional microbes, biomass to bioenergy/biochemicals, nutrients removal from wastewater, and applying nucleic acid-based approach in laboratory cultures and in situ.

During her tenure at NUS, Dr. He has generated more than 90 peer-reviewed publications while securing significant amount of external funding from diverse funding agencies (>17million in the past 10 years).  So far, her publications have been cited for more than 6000 times (Google Scholar) and an H-Index of 37.  She holds several patents and collaborates widely with industrial, governmental and scientific partners.  She is the Associate Editor of Frontiers in Microbiology and the editorial board member of the Journal of Scientific Reports, Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

11:45 am - 12:00 am

Fungi and Friends: the Role of Fungal-Bacterial Interactions in Rhizosphere Biogeochemistry

Jennifer Pett-Ridge is a senior staff scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Adjunct Full Professor at UC Merced. A microbial ecologist, she combines isotope tracing and NanoSIMS imaging, molecular systems biology and biogeochemistry to link identity and function in environmental microbial communities. Jennifer was the founding PI of the LLNL Genomic Science Biofuels Scientific Focus Area (SFA), and currently leads LLNL’s Soil Microbiome SFA –a team project that is unearthing the genomic mechanisms of soil carbon persistence. Jennifer is also leading the DOE’s National Getting to Neutral analysis, a county-level evaluation of carbon dioxide removal options in the United States. As Group Leader for LLNL’s Environmental Isotope Systems group, Jennifer manages $35 million in DOE, NSF, NASA and other funding, and mentors a large group of scientists, postdocs and students. She has published over 115 peer-review articles and collaborates widely. She has received the DOE Early Career Award (2015), the Secretary of Energy Achievement Award (2020) and recently served on the Executive Council for the AGU Biogeosciences Section.

12:00 pm -  12:15 pm

The Good, the Bad and the Neutral of Human Gut Microbiota

Marius Vital is a research group leader at the Institute for Microbiology and Hospital Epidemiology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany. His lab works in close collaboration with clinicians and applies “Next- and Third-Generation” Sequencing techniques as well as defined in vitro cultivation setups to investigate the role of human microbiota in health and disease. Particular focus is given on specific functions of gut microbiota. Both the production of
health promoting metabolites, such as short chain fatty acids, and harmful microbe-derived products, for instance trimethylamine, are investigated in detail. Furthermore, the lab studies (eco)physiological consequences of antibiotic
resistance in gram negatives, particularly tackling the question how resistance acquisition affects growth and survival of those bacteria in the gut environment. Dr. Vital was a Postdoctoral Research Associate with Prof. James Tiedje at Michigan State University in 2011-2014. (short bio-sketch)

12:15 pm - 12:30 pm

Antibiotic Resistance Genes and Mobile Genetic Elements in Soil and Plant Bacteria

Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Kornelia Smalla is the head of the microbial ecology group in the Institute for Epidemiology and Pathogen Diagnostics at the Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, in Braunschweig. She studied chemistry and did her PhD in biochemistry at the Martin-Luther-University in Halle. The venia legendi for microbiology was obtained at the Technical University Braunschweig where she is an adjunct Professor for Microbiology. From the beginning of the 1990’s Kornelia Smalla contributed to the new field of molecular microbial ecology. The development of cultivation-independent methods to study microbial communities in complex environments and their response to pollutants such as antibiotics is a major theme of her work. Her long-term research interests are unraveling factors that shape the soil and plant microbiomes, the transferable resistome and plasmid-mediated bacterial adaptation to changing environments.