Kent Laboratory University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Kent Lab News

Summer 2010

Proposal funded: NSF Research Opportunity Award "Microbial Community Diversity and Dynamics in Restored Floodplain Ecosystems". This project supports our collaboration with Dr. Michael Lemke from the University of Illinois at Springfield. This research contributes to both our wetland microbial ecology and our aquatic microbial ecology research themes.

Sponsor: National Science Foundation, $25,000

Good luck, Robert! Robert is moving on to pharmacy school at the University of Utah. We had a great party to send him off! Good luck - we'll miss you!

New publication! Sara's manuscript on connections between glycolate oxidizing bacteria and phytoplankton has been accepted for publication in Microbial Ecology:

Paver, S.F. and A.D. Kent. 2010. Temporal patterns in glycolate-utilizing bacterial community composition correlate with phytoplankton population dynamics in humic lakes. Microbial Ecology. in press. [Online First]

She's following up with additional fieldwork in northern Wisconsin!

Wetland fieldwork: Ariane and her crew have been carrying out fieldwork to examine microbial community structure and function in restored wetlands in Illinois. See more photos of wetland fieldwork at Emiquon and St. Joseph.

Spring 2010

New publication! Ariane's manuscript on the effect of wetland restoration and mitigation banking on denitrifying bacteria has been published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology:

Peralta, A.L., J.W. Matthews, and A.D. Kent. 2010. Microbial community structure and denitrification function in a wetland mitigation bank. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 76:4702-4215. [PDF]

Congratulations, Kevin!

Kevin was awarded a prestigious Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the American Society for Microbiology for his research on carbon resource specialization in aquatic microbial communities. This award includes a stipend to support his summer fieldwork in northern Wisconsin, and travel to the 2011 ASM General Meeting in New Orleans to present his research results.

Outreach with the Campus Middle School for Girls: We worked with the eight grade environmental science class at the Campus Middle School for Girls. We introduced the girls to concepts in water quality and environmetnal science, and explored the water cycle in an urban setting, along with human activities that influence water and environmental quality. Mentors included Angela Kent, and grad students Ariane Peralta, Sara Paver, Katie Amato, and Moni Berg-Binder. Our six-week long program concluded with a decision-making activity that integrated everything they had learned about environmental quality and the water cycle! See more photos here!

Congratulations Ariane! The School of Integrative Biology awarded Ariane the John G. and Evelyn Hartman Heiligenstein Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for 2009-2010. Great job!

January 2010

New publication! Zach Bayne's Environmental Fellows capstone project "Degraded water quality influences microbial community composition and perception of health risks in the Chattooga River" will be published in a special undergraduate research issue of DNA and Cell Biology. Great way to start the new year!

December 2009

Tchau, Janaina! Ate logo! Janaina had a tremendously successful semester in the Kent lab, and accomplished more than we had originally planned for her investigations of mangrove microbial ecology. Jana returned to Brazil in December (just missing a really good snowfall). We had a great party to send her off.

November 2009

Prelims and thesis defenses: November had a lot of milestones! Ariane passed her prelim exam for the Program in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology. Yu-rui and Sara successfully defended their M.S. theses (on the same day) for Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences! Then we celebrated. Yu-rui is staying on as a technician for the spring semester before starting a Ph.D. program, and Sara is continuing on in the PEEC Ph.D. program.

October 2009

Halloween! Photos from our first annual pumpkin carving party. We had a lot of first time carvers, so Angela gave an impromptu lecture on the fine art of pumpkin carving. It's probably on YouTube somewhere. Clearly everyone got an A in carving!

Turkey Run State Park, IN. Check out photos of our lab outing to Turkey Run State Park in Indiana. It was a great day for hiking!

August 2009

New lab members! We have a lot of new faces. Ginny Li is a new M.S. student who will work on the bioenergy and sustainability project. Jason Koval is a new M.S. student who will work on a wetland microbial ecology research project with collaborators at EPA. Janaina Rigonato is a visiting Ph.D. student from University of Sao Paulo-ESALQ. She will work in the Kent lab this semester learning new methods for her project investigating cyanobacteria in mangrove ecosystems. Derrick Lin and Yi Lou are new students in Tony Yannarell's lab, investigating the impacts of invasive species on soil microbial community structure and function.

Ecological Society of America: Ariane, Yu-rui, and Angela traveled to Albuquerque, NM, along with Tony Yannarell for the ESA Summer Meeting. Ariane gave a talk on her wetland microbial ecology research at Emiquon, Yu-rui presented a poster on her biofilm microbial ecology results, and Angela presented a talk on bioenergy and sustainability. Yu-rui was awarded travel awards from the ESA Aquatic Ecology section and the Microbial Ecology section! See more photos of the Kent lab in New Mexico.

New course offering! Angela is teaching a new NRES grad course: Microbial Ecology Methods. This hands-on course introduces students to field and laboratory methods used to study microbial communities and their activities. Our course project will make history as the first characterization of microbial communities in the University of Illinois Morrow Plots!

National Great Rivers Research and Education Center: Eric Johnston presented his wetland microbial ecology research at the NGRREC Intern Symposium. Eric was mentored by Ariane Peralta.

July 2009

Proposal funded: Identifying design principles for engineered ecosystems: denitrifying biofilters for sustainable agriculture

PIs: Julie Zilles (CEE), Angela Kent (NRES), Luis Rodriguez (ABE)

Sponsor: National Science Foundation, $401,080

Washington, D.C.: Angela visited USDA to participate in a grant review panel. While there, she visited the very cool soils exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History.

Microbial Observatory fieldwork

Sara and Kevin traveled to northern Wisconsin for field work and experiments exploring bacterial-agal foodweb interactions.

See more photos of their fieldwork in northern Wisconsin.

June 2009

New lab members!
Post-doc Daniel Keymer joins the lab. Daniel is working on the bioenergy and sustainability project.
UW-Madison vet med student Caroline Chu will work with us this summer as part of the Vet Med Summer Research Training Program. Her research on the microbial ecology of poultry housing is part of our "Healthy Environment" theme, and we are collaborating with Angela Green in Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Check out photos of Caroline's field work.

Harvard Forest, MA: Angela visited the Harvard Forest LTER site for 3 days, and learned about the exciting research going on there. Climbing one of the the canopy towers was one of the highlights!

May 2009

American Society for Microbiology Meeting

Angela, Sara, and Neil attended the General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Philadelphia, PA along with Tony Yannarell. Sara presented her work on aquatic microbial interactions, Neil presented a poster on his work to characterize bacteria associated with bioenergy grasses, and he was also selected to give a talk on his research at the ASM Undergraduate Research Fellows Symposium. Angela presented a summary of our wetland microbial ecology research. There was a lot of interest in our work, and we had a great time chatting about our research and catching up with friends from Wisconsin. See more photos of the Kent lab in Philly!

April 2009

New lab mascot!

Introducing Dax, our new lab mascot! He specializes in eating, sleeping and playing ball.

Environmental Horizons

We were well represented this year at Environmental Horizons.

Yu-rui presented results of her investigation on light and nutrient effects on bacteria associated with a stream biofilm.
Neil presented his research on nitrogen-fixing microbes associated with bioenergy grasses.
Ariane presented her preliminary results on microbial community structure and function at the Emiquon floodplain restoration site.

March 2009

Emiquon Science Meeting

The Kent Lab attended the Emiquon Science Meeting at The Nature Conservancy's Emiquon wetland restoration site. We met with colleagues from University of Illinois at Springfield, and toured the UIS Emiquon field station.

Ariane presented a poster on microbial nitrogen cycling at the Emiquon floodplain restoration site.

February 2009

We hosted Jane Smith from the US Forest Service (Pacific NW Region) as our PEEC seminar speaker this week. She presented a seminar entitled "The Hot Dirt on Soil -- Recovery of Forest Soils After Fire".

January 2009

Congratulations, Diana!

Diana defended her thesis titled "Microbial community structure and function in wetlands". Watch for manuscripts soon on our wetland microbial ecology research!

December 2008

Proposal funded: Linking microbial community structure to water quality function: investigating nitrogen cycling during early floodplain development
Sponsor: Illinois Water Resource Center, $37,662

Happy Birthday, Ariane! We received word that Ariane's proposal to the IWRC was funded on Ariane's birthday. This will provide RA funding for her wetland microbial ecology research at the Emiquion Preserve for one year. Ariane says it's the most expensive birthday present she's ever received!

Summer and Fall 2008 Travel

The Kent Lab is having an exciting summer and busy fall semester - click on the map to see where we've been!

November 2008

ACES Global Academy Immersion trip

Angela traveled to Brazil with the ACES Global Academy to explore the broader impacts of bioenergy. We spent time in Mato Grosso, the soy producing region of Brazil, and we learned about biodiesel and ethanol production. We heard about many different initiatives to enhance agricultural sustainability, environmental quality and social justice. We also had the opportunity to meet with researchers at Embrapa Cerrados and ESALQ, as well as representatives from bioenergy industries. The trip finished with a conference comparing the social and economic impacts of bioenergy in the US and Brazil.

See more photos from Brazil.

October 2008

University of Washington

Angela traveled to Seattle to present a talk as part of the Young Investigators seminar series at the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Department at the University of Washington. Seattle was wonderful, and it was great to meet with the outstanding researchers at the university.

We hosted Heather Reynolds, from the Indiana University Department of Biology. She spent some time learning molecular microbial ecology methods to use in her plant-microbe interactions.

September 2008

Workshop on Aquatic Microbial Community Dynamics

Angela traveled to Uppsala, Sweden to participate in GLEON 7 and give a talk at the Aquatic Microbial Community Dynamics workshop organized by Stefan Bertilsson. Lots of friends from Madison were also there, along with many of the top European researchers in aquatic microbial ecology. It was an excellent workshop!

August 2008

International Society of Microbial Ecology

Angela and Ariane traveled to Cairns, Australia, along with Tony Yannarell to attend the meeting of the International Society of Microbial Ecology. Angela presented a poster about aquatic microbial communities and their interactions with phytoplankton. Ariane won a student poster award for her presentation about the ecological drivers of wetland microbial communities. Ariane's poster was one of 9 posters selected for the award from over 1200 posters presented at the meeting. Congratulations, Ariane!

We took some time for sight-seeing in the rainforest and at the Great Barrier Reef. See some more photos of our trip!

Ecological Society of America Summer Meeting

Ariane and Sara attended the ESA summer meeting in Milwaukee, WI with a group of GEEB students. Ariane presented a poster about her wetland microbial ecology research. Friends from the UW-Madison North Temperate Lakes Microbial Observatory were also present.

July 2008

Wetlands fieldwork

Ariane began fieldwork at The Nature Conservancy's Emiquon Preserve. She is studying changes in microbial community structure and function as the original floodplain is restored. Check out some more Emiquon photos.

Biofuels fieldwork

Angela and Neil traveled to Taiwan for three weeks to collect samples as part of our investigation of the role of endophytic diazotrophic bacteria for sustainability of biofuel crops. Colleagues from National Cheng Kung University are hosting us during our visit, and collaborating with us for our fieldwork.

See more photos from our Taiwan fieldwork!

June 2008

Microbial Observatory fieldwork

Sara joined our Microbial Observatory colleagues at UW-Madison for exciting fieldwork in the northwoods. Angela came along to Madison to introduce Sara to summer at the Union Terrace!
See more photos of Sara's fieldwork in northern Wisconsin.

American Society of Limnology and Oceanography

Sara and Angela gave presentations at the 2008 ASLO Summer Meeting in St. John's, Newfoundland. Sara presented a poster with results that she and Yu-rui have produced for our aquatic microbial food web project. Angela gave a talk about our wetland microbial ecology research.

See more photos from the ASLO meeting!

May 2008

Society of Wetland Scientists Annual Meeting

Diana traveled to Washington, DC to presented her wetland microbial ecology research at the Society of Wetland Scientists annual meeting.

April 2008

ACES Global Academy trip to Chicago

Angela traveled to Chicago with the ACES Global Academy to learn about UIUC connections in Chicago. We were particularly interested in hearing about international connections with Illinois businesses and agencies.

See more photos from the Chicago trip.

Spring poster presentations

The Kent Lab was well represented at the UIUC Environmental Horizons and Undergraduate Research Symposium. We had posters representing the Microbial Observatory microbial food web project, wetland microbial ecology, the Energy Biosciences biofuels and sustainability project, water quality and human health, and mentoring of undergraduate researchers.
See more photos of our poster presentations.

Congratulations Ariane!

Ariane's wetland poster was recognized as the best poster in Environmental Science at the Illinois State Academy of Sciences meeting last month!

Jeff Matthews (our collaborator on the wetland microbial ecology project) took first prize in Environmental Science for his oral presentation at the ISAS meeting.

Great job everyone!

Congratulations, Jeff!

Wetland collaborator Jeff Matthews successfully defended his dissertation!
We helped him celebrate!

Congratulations, Neil!

Neil was awarded a prestigious Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the American Society for Microbiology for his research on the role of endophytic diazotrophic bacteria for sustainability of biofuel crops. This award includes a stipend to support his summer fieldwork, and travel to the 2009 ASM General Meeting in Philadelphia to present his research results.

Field work at the Shedd Aquarium

Sara and Carolyn traveled to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago with Angela to collect samples for research on environmental quality in artificial marine habitats.

See more photos from our work with the Shedd Aquarium!

Illinois State Academy of Science
Annual Meeting

Diana and Ariane presented their wetland microbial ecology research at the 100th Annual Meeting of the Illinois State Academy of Science.

See more photos from ISAS meeting.

Emiquon Science Meeting

The Kent Lab attended the Emiquon Science Meeting at The Nature Conservancy's Emiquon wetland restoration site. We met with colleagues from University of Illinois at Springfield, and toured the new UIS Emiquon field station.

See more photos from our trip to Emiquon.

Congratulations, Ariane!

Ariane was elected president of the Graduates in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (GEEB)! She is also one of the founders (along with Sara Paver) of GEEBMicro - a new microbial ecology student group.

March 2008

Ariane in the news!

Ariane's M.S. thesis research about soil organic matter dynamics in response to global change was recently published in Plant and Soil. Ariane carried out her M.S. research in the laboratory of Michelle Wander in the Department of NRES. They used the UIUC SoyFACE facility to study the effects of increased atmospheric CO2 on the levels of soil organic matter in soybean fields. The implications of their research results were reported in a recent University news story and also in the local newspaper.

Visiting researcher:

The Kent lab will host Anita Ansevica for the month of March. Anita is a graduate student from the Latvian University of Agriculture. Anita will be learning molecular molecular microbial ecology methods that will assist with her research project investigating the nodulation efficacy of Rhizobium inoculants for leguminous plants.

Welcome, Anita!

ACES Global Academy trip
to Washington, DC:

Angela travels to Washington, DC with fellow scholars in the ACES Global Academy to learn more about federal and international agencies involved in funding international research and education. It was a busy trip, but Academy members learned a lot about international resources. See additional photos from the trip.

February 2008

NEON Microbial Ecology workshop:

Angela traveled to the LSU campus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to attend a microbial ecology workshop for
the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). NEON is developing a continental-scale research platform for discovering
and understanding the impacts of climate change, land-use change,
and invasive species on ecology. This project will gather long-term data on ecological responses of the biosphere to changes in land use
and climate, and on feedbacks with the geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere.

At this workshop, microbial ecology researchers from all over the country gathered to meet with NEON planners to discuss approaches to integrate microbial biology with the ecosystem-scale science of NEON.

Friends from UW-Madison, University of Florida, University of Georgia-Athens and elsewhere were also at this workshop. See more photos from the NEON workshop.

EBI retreat:

Angela attended the Energy Biosciences Institute research retreat. This meeting brought together all of the research teams funded by the EBI. These researchers are located at UC-Berkeley, the University of Illinois, and Lawrence Berkely National Lab. This scientific retreat was the "kick-off" meeting for the new research and development organization that will bring together the disciplines of biology, the physical sciences, engineering, and environmental and social sciences to devise viable solutions to global energy challenges and reduce the impact of fossil fuels to global warming.

Angela presented preliminary results from our biofuels and sustainability project that was recently funded by the EBI. See more photos from the EBI retreat.

2008 ACES Global Academy:

Angela was selected to represent the Department of NRES in the 2008 College of ACES Academy for Global Engagement. The ACES Global Academy is a year-long program designed to heighten global awareness among faculty in the College of ACES. The class of seven "scholars" will spend a year learning more about the international resources available on campus, in the state, and nation that will enhance their teaching, research and extension missions. The goal of the program is to increase learning of the international realm, and heighten global engagement by faculty in the College of ACES.

The 2008 scholars include: Kent Rausch, agricultural and biological engineering; Miguel Gomez, agricultural and consumer economics; David Miller, animal sciences; Kris Lambert, crop sciences; Nicki Engeseth, food science and human nutrition; Angela Kent, natural resources and environmental sciences; Michelle Norris, UI extension educator.

The program activities begin in February when the scholars will meet with campus international leaders. The group will travel to Washington D.C. in early March to gain exposure to funding agencies and resources that can assist with international activities in higher education. Throughout the spring semester, the Academy will explore options for an interdisciplinary project theme which will allow them to creatively work together at a selected international site later this year.

January 2008

Proposal funded: "Ecology and exploitation of endophytic diazotrophic bacteria in biofuel crops"
Sponsor: Energy Biosciences Institute, $608,000

This project is part of a large interdisciplinary bioenergy initiative involving the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of California, Berkeley, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and BP.
Learn more about the Energy Biosciences Institute.

December 2007

Angela presented a guest seminar to the Evolution, Ecology and Behavior Program at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. She spoke about ecological drivers of microbial community variability in aquatic ecosystems. Angela's host was Heather Reynolds, Associate Professor in the IU Department of Biology. Heather will join the Kent lab during her sabbatical (Fall 2008)
to learn more about the molecular techniques we apply in our soil microbial ecology studies.

November 2007

Sara is awarded a prestigious Odell fellowship to support her graduate studies. Congratulations, Sara!

Zach is awarded a SURE fellowship from the UIUC Environmental Council to support his work on water quality in the Chattooga River. Congratulations, Zach!

The Kent lab and the Aquatic Microbial Ecology students take a field trip to the Shedd Aquarium. Dr. Bill Van Bonn and Dr. Allen LaPointe give us a 'behind-the-scenes' tour, and discuss animal health and environmental quality.

See more photos from our field trip!

October 2007

Proposal funded: "Microbial Observatories: Drivers of microbial community diversity and composition in humic lakes."
Sponsor: National Science Foundation, $1.5 M
Learn more about the North Temperate Lakes Microbial Observatory.

September 2007

Angela traveled to Taipei, Taiwan to attend the International Symposium on Soil Biodiversity and Ecology. She presented research findings from the wetland microbial ecology study: "Microbial community structure and function in restored floodplain forest wetlands". The conference included a field trip to Kinmen Island near the Chinese mainland.
See more photos from Angela's trip.

Angela and Tony took the Aquatic Microbial Ecology students on a weekend field trip to Kickapoo State Park to collect samples for microbial community analyses. We had a great time and got a lot of "hands-on" experience in limnology and aquatic microbiology! Check out the photos from the camping trip.

August 2007

Angela traveled to Montreal for the International Society for Limnology (SIL) conference. She organized a technical session with Trina McMahon and Jim Rusak, and participated in a workshop on frontiers in freshwater microbial ecology research.

See more photos of Angela and the Wisconsin North Temperate Lakes group at SIL.

Ariane Peralta begins her PhD studies with the PEEC program!
New NRES MS students Sara Paver and Yu-rui Chang join the lab!

New course offering! Angela is teaching a new NRES field course: Aquatic Microbial Ecology with Tony Yannarell. This hands-on course introduces students to field and laboratory methods used to study microbial communities and their activities in aquatic environments.

July 2007

Angela and Tony Yannarell traveled to Bozeman, MT to participate in a NSF-sponsored FIBR workshop entitled "Do Species Matter in Microbial Communities?" at Montana State University. The workshop included a field trip to the research sites at Yellowstone National Park.

See more photos from the Montana trip.

May 2007

New publication! "Synchrony in aquatic microbial community dynamics" is published in the inaugural issue of The ISME Journal, the new journal of the International Society of Microbial Ecology.

Angela traveled to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago to participate in a workshop on Managing Cetaceans for Optimal Health. She presented a talk entitled "Comparing microbial community composition in natural and managed aquatic ecosystems".

Angela traveled to Toronto, Ontario for the 2007 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. She participated in a colloquium entitled "Do microbes play by the rules? New explorations in microbial ecology" and presented a talk on temporal variability in microbial communities. Sara Paver was also at ASM, presenting her undergraduate research on bacterial communities at the air-water interface (with Mike Lemke at University of Illinois at Springfield).

April 2007

The Kent lab hosted participants of the IAEA Coordinated Research Project on Development and Use of Rumen Molecular Techniques for Predicting and Enhancing Livestock Productivity as they visit UIUC to attend a week-long workshop on Molecular Analysis of Rumen Microbial Community Composition. Researchers from eight developing nations learned about techniques for microbial community analyses.

See more photos from the IAEA workshop.

January 2007

Proposal funded: "Investigating the biological basis of soil fertility: the effect of sustainable management practices on microbial populations that contribute to efficient nutrient cycling"
Sponsor: Illinois Department of Agriculture, Sustainable Agriculture program

August 2006

Angela traveled to Vienna, Austria for ISME-11 to present a talk entitled: "Synchrony and temporal concordance in microbial community succession in a suite of north temperate humic lakes".

Angela returned to Madison, WI to present a talk entitled "Microbial community structure is correlated with mercury methylation in northern Wisconsin lakes" at the Mercury 2006 conference.

New NRES M.S. Student Diana Flanagan joins the lab!

June 2006

Angela traveled to Victoria, BC for the 2006 ASLO Summer Meeting. She presented research results about ecological forces that influence the composition and dynamics of aquatic microbial communities.

Our statewide wetland survey begins. This research is a collaboration with Jeff Matthews in the Illinois Natural History Survey. We are collecting data on soil conditions, plant communities, microbial activities, and microbial community composition. Great Rivers Research interns, Arun Soni and Pat Baldwin, are assisting with the field work for this research.