James is Co-PI on a new project awarded funding from Human Frontier Science Program to study the habitability of the atmosphere. The project, titled 'The atmosphere: A living, breathing ecosystem?' seeks to address whether the atmosphere is simply a passive dispersal medium for microorganisms, or if the atmosphere exhibits structure and activity characteristic of a true ecosystem (i.e. containing active resident and transient microorganisms that influence biology, chemistry, and climate globally). The project, involving Co-PIs Jackie Goordial at the University of Guelph (Canada), Chris Greening at Monash University (Australia), and Elizabeth Trembath-Reichert at Arizona State University (USA), integrates ultra-sensitive single-cell activity measurements, genomic approaches, and planetary-scale modelling to test whether the atmosphere is ecologically structured and metabolically active.
We will soon be advertising postdoctoral and graduate student opportunities associated with this grant - watch this space!