Dr. Christopher Omelon
Department of Geography and Planning
I received my B.A. and M.Sc. from McGill University in Montréal, Québec and my Ph.D. from The University of Toronto. My M.Sc. focused on the geochemical dynamics of saline spring discharge, whereas my Ph.D. examined microenvironmental conditions and microbe-mineral interactions in cryptoendolithic habitats. Both projects involved fieldwork in the Canadian high Arctic, specifically Axel Heiberg Island and Ellesmere Island. I was also fortunate to complete a NASA Planetary Biology Internship between graduate studies, and postdoctoral positions at Western University, McGill University, The University of Texas at Austin, and The University of Kansas.
B.A. Geography, McGill University
M.Sc. Geography, McGill University
Ph.D. Geology, University of Toronto
Geomicrobiology is the study of interactions between microorganisms and their natural surroundings. Microorganisms are ubiquitous in the natural environment, occurring in any habitat where there is sufficient energy, water, and nutrients for survival and growth. Their abundance in the biogeosphere, along with their innumerable metabolic pathways, make them powerful geochemical forces that greatly impact local surroundings through direct and indirect energy and chemical exchanges that can be observed as the cycling of elements, the transformation of rocks and sediments, and dissolution and precipitation of minerals. As such, geomicrobiologists explore the diversity of these microbial communities and their habitats so as to better recognize the magnitude to which their activity influences natural systems and their implication in changing the Earth’s landscape.
The goal of my research is to understand geomicrobiological and biogeochemical dynamics in aquatic and terrestrial habitats, chemical activity and interactions at the microbe-mineral interface, and resulting impacts on the natural environment through examination of both microorganisms and associated biomaterials and biomarkers. This work includes both fieldwork and laboratory experiments that cover disciplines in geomicrobiology, low-temperature geochemistry, molecular biology, and hydrogeology. I am currently developing research projects focusing on the impact of climate warming on the terrestrial landscape of the Arctic.
Curriculum Vitae (pdf, 211kB)