Virginia Rich's research interests are: global change microbial ecology, ecosystems microbiology, microbial biogeochemistry
Our lab studies microbial biogeochemistry, within the "genes-to-ecosystems" framework. We use molecular microbial ecology techniques and strong partnerships with biogeochemists, informaticians, and modelers to investigate how microbes respond to, and mediate, environments undergoing anthropogenic change. We're a diverse group of scientists, working together on a "systems-level" understanding of microbial community interactions with the environment. Our flagship project is in Arctic Sweden where climate change is causing permafrost to collapse and microbial C cycling to shift dramatically, leading to climate change feedbacks which have been highlighted by the IPCC as a major consequential unknown for improving climate change models. We co-lead a team that stretches across 9 labs and 3 continents to understand and better model the microbiology & geochemistry occurring under thaw at our site. We also work at the Catalina-Jemez Critical Zone Observatory, studying how microbially-mediated ecosystem functions are impacted by disturbance, in a landscape-explicit context; that means we explicitly examine the differences in community responses on hill slopes versus in valleys. Again, this work is performed in essential collaboration with soil scientists and geochemists to improve our holistic understanding. Please visit our lab website for further information, at https://openwetware.org/wiki/SWES-MEL.