I was born in Miami, FL, just a few miles from both the Everglades and the Atlantic Ocean. Surrounded by some of the most beautiful marine and aquatic habitats in the world, I developed a love for water from a young age. After graduating from high school, I attended Florida International University, where I majored in biology. It was during my junior year at FIU that I became interested in biogeochemistry and the role that microbes play in the recycling of nutrients on a global scale. I was amazed by the vast influence that these tiny organisms had upon the Earth. Not only do they regulate our climate by playing integral roles in the carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur cycles, but we are now also finding out that they can directly affect our physical and mental health as well! Microbes are important members of our ecosystem and I became driven to learn more about them. I performed undergraduate research in a microbial ecology lab, where I analyzed the effects of various pesticides on the indigenous nitrogen-cycling microbial communities of agricultural soils in southwestern Miami.
I currently work under the advisement of Dr. James T. Hollibaugh as a prospective microbial biogeochemist. I am interested in the interactions between microbes and toxic metalloids such as antimony and arsenic. These metalloids exist in nature as a result of both anthropogenic activities and from natural sources such as mineral weathering and geothermal inputs. In the case of antimony, relatively little information is available on the transformation and transport of the element through the environment. Our goal has been to shed light on the biogeochemistry of antimony and arsenic by isolating microbes that use their oxyanions as substrates for growth. Using molecular genetic techniques, we can try to piece together the biochemical pathways responsible for the transformation of these toxic elements in nature. This work will have far reaching implications in diverse fields such as bioremediation and evolution.
In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my wife, newborn son, and our dog Einstein. We like to explore the scenery in Georgia, especially the botanical garden in Athens and the mountains in the northeastern part of the state. I am an avid reader of science fiction novels, particularly those written by Michael Crichton and Stephen King. I also have a large collection of fossils, ranging from billion-year-old stromatolites to more “recent” amber and petrified wood.