Assistant Research Professor, Montana State University
Christine Foreman studies life in extreme conditions and remote environments, connecting the very smallest organisms to the workings of the entire planet. Her research revolves around the organization of microbial communities in relation to their physical environment, and the processing of nutrients and dissolved organic matter (DOM). She is interested in the contribution of DOM to global carbon budgets, including potential storage in ice, and how this DOM is responsive to enhanced UV radiation. The connection between ice-bound DOM and climate change is important because we know that frozen environments comprise ~25% of the Earth's surface and that the carbon reservoir in ice is equivalent to that in all of the Earth's freshwater rivers and lakes.
The permanently ice covered lakes of the McMurdo Dry Valleys provide a unique setting in which to study microbial interactions. As a scientist with the McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER and Microbial Observatories projects Foreman spent several seasons in the Dry Valleys investigating microbial interactions in the lakes, and glacial cryoconites (holes in the ice). She and her team have conducted the first studies of biofilm communities in these lakes, showing them to be hotspots (sic) of activity. They believe that their work will contribute to the understanding of how life survived through proposed global-glaciation events on our planet. Cryoconite holes provide a modern day analog of a possible refuge for microbial life during these "Snowball Earth" events. In addition, their studies set the stage for future investigations of life on other icy planets and moons.
Christine is an Assistant Research Professor at Montana State University and is a member of the U.S. Committee for Limnology and Geochemistry of the International Subcommittee on Antarctic Lake Environments, (SALE).
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