OHSU student awarded early career scientist

Davies receiving ISME award 

10/20/10 Portland, Ore.

Richard Davies, a graduate student in OHSU's Institute of Environmental Health, recently received the International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME) poster award for early career scientists. The award is given to students who are the first and presenting author on a submitted poster presentation.

Davies poster on “Spatial and temporal variability of microbial communities in pre-and post-eruption microbial mats collected from Loihi Seamount, Hawaii” was presented at ISME 13, the 13th Annual International Symposium on Microbial Ecology in Seattle, Washington. He was one of nine outstanding posters were chosen at the conference.

The poster described what happens to hydrothermal microbial communities when an underwater volcano (seamount) erupts. Davies findings showed that microbial communities shifted from iron oxidizing to sulfur oxidizing at the Loihi Seamount vents over a period of 3-4 years.

“The transition from brine-dominated (iron and manganese) communities to vapor (sulfide and hydrogen) dominated communities during an eruptive event has always been theorized based on the chemistry of the waters,” Davies said. “But we are the first to show it with quality samples before, during, and after an eruptive event.”

Davis collaborated with a group of researchers on the project. Dr Craig Moyer, professor at Western Washington University, collected the microbial mat samples and guided much of the project. Geoff Wheat, research professor at University of Alaska, provided water chemistry data. And Davies advisor, Brad Tebo, division head of OHSU’s Division of Environmental and Biomolecular Systems, supported the research.

Davies recently finished his research at the microbial observatory called FeMO, Fe-Oxidizing Microbial Observatory Project on Loihi Seamount. During that time, he investigated the different biochemical pathways that microbes use to perform carbon fixation in the metal-rich environment of a hydrothermally active seamount.

“I was able to sample an actively erupting volcano last spring off of the coast of Samoa in collaboration with the Vents program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),” Davies said.

The IMSE poster award is reserved for students, or graduates within two years of graduation as long as they are the first author on a submitted poster. IMSE is the principle scientific society for the burgeoning field of microbial ecology and its related disciplines. The ISME symposium, organized every two years, is the largest international meetings addressing a wide range of topics in microbial ecology.