Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Life Sciences

First Committee Member

Brian Hedlund

Second Committee Member

Duane Moser

Third Committee Member

Penny Amy

Fourth Committee Member

David Mead

Fifth Committee Member

Ernesto Abel-Santos

Number of Pages



The field of microbial ecology is on the cusp of another revolution, one that uses synergy to address the limitations of previous studies. My dissertation is representative of the new era of research to come, through combining the latest technological advances with established classical methods to provide a more complete understanding of microbial ecosystems. In my first study, I evaluate the conservation of central carbon metabolic pathways and activity along a temperature and diversity gradient (60-95 ℃) through the use of 16S rRNA gene amplicon data, metagenome sequencing, and position-specific 13C-labeled metabolite probing. In my second study, I provide the first genomic insights into the genus Thermoflexus, through a combination of metagenomeassembled genomes and comparative genomics leveraged by exometabolomic-informed physiological studies of Thermoflexus hugenholtzii JADT, the only cultured representative of the Chloroflexi class Thermoflexia. In my third study, I contribute to the ongoing development of a community-applicable 13CO2-based metabolic flux analysis technique by adding metabolic complexity to a metabolic model and providing the first preliminary evaluation of this technique in the controlled setting of pure-cultures of well-characterized strains of Escherichia coli.

By combining novel and established methods, data from isolates and community studies, and importantly employing an interdisciplinary and international team, my work highlights the idea that a holistic understanding of an ecological system requires a synergistic and holistic approach to science.


Environmental Sciences | Microbiology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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