Microbes in weird places: what life is like in the deep Earth

Karen Lloyd will speak on her recent research at the Discover Science Lecture, Thursday March 14

Dr. Karen Lloyd speaks Thursday, March 14 2019 at the Davidson Math and Science Center.


3/14/2019 | By: Staff Report  |

Karen Lloyd will present her lecture on March 14th as the first spring speaker for the College of Science Discover Science Lecture Series at the University of Nevada, Reno.

For her lecture, Karen Lloyd, a deep-surface microbiologist, will take the audience on a journey through the exotic places she's traveled to study this underground life. Most recently, Lloyd went on a field trip to the high altitude Puna region of the Andes in Argentina where she and her team sampled 12 of the most pristine hot springs. Their plan is to connect the type of life found there with the underlying plate tectonics that are driving the volcanoes of the Andes.

"I hope that people will gain an appreciation for just how wild Earth really is," Lloyd said.

Lloyd is an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Tennessee. She has participated in six oceanographic research cruises and served as a scientific leader for six coastal field expeditions.

Lloyd is captivated by figuring out how she could do intellectually stimulating science in adventurous settings like jungles or the high seas which has led her to the most biologically diverse areas of the world including Argentina, Costa Rica and the Arctic.

The central point of Lloyd's research is to learn more about what types of organisms we share this Earth with, and how they act as catalysts for important Earth elemental cycles. Lloyd applies molecular biological techniques to environmental samples to learn more about microbes that have thus far evaded attempts to be cultured in a laboratory.

"I hope to convey a sense of the vastness of what is unknown about our natural world," Lloyd said. "People may think that microbes are a well-studied part of Earth's ecosystem, but, in recent years, we've learned that the vast majority of microbes are totally new to science ... [and] this opens up a world of possibilities for the things we will find," Lloyd said.

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