Dr. Stephen Techtmann , Assistant Professor
Michigan Tech Department of Biological Sciences
Biography – I am an environmental microbiologist who studies microbial communities in diverse ecosystems. Microbes (Bacteria and Archaea) are ubiquitous in the environment and play essential roles in the cycling of elements. These environmental microbes are capable of catalyzing a wide array of chemical reactions, many of which may have industrial applications. I study how complex microbial communities can cooperate to perform functions of industrial interest. The majority of microbes in the environment are difficult to grow in the lab. Furthermore, many industrially-relevant pathways are found in microbes not yet grown in the lab. I seek to employ both culture-based and culture-independent methods to understand how these microbial communities respond to anthropogenic activity and environmental change and how we might leverage these microbes for a biotechnological application. In the past, I have investigated how microbes from hot springs and geothermal vents could be used for biofuel production. Most recently, I have focused on microbial communities that respond to and aid in the clean up of crude oil contamination. I am also interested in engineering environmental microbes and microbial communities for enhanced biofuel production. I employ a combination of geochemical techniques, next-generation sequencing and other ‘omics approaches, with microbial physiology and biochemistry to better understand these microbial systems.