Principal Investigator

Maureen Coleman

Associate Professor 


I grew up near the Finger Lakes and Lake Ontario in upstate New York. I didn't know any scientists growing up, but I fell in love with ecology, evolution, and microbiology as an undergrad. I did my Ph.D. at MIT studying genome evolution in Prochlorococcus, the most abundant photosynthetic organism on Earth. I then did a postdoc at Caltech where I learned a lot about microbiology and genetics. My current research interests include microbial adaptation to climate change and virus-host coevolution.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Benjamin Calfee

Simons Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Marine Microbial Ecology


My research focuses on determining how resource competition, viral pressures, and microbial interactions influence the ecology of aquatic ecosystems. Through these lenses I explore the factors controlling the population dynamics of marine picocyanobacteria, Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus.

Graduate Students

María D. Hernández Limón

My undergrad major was Geo-Biology and since then I have been curious about the interaction between biology and its surroundings. More precisely I want to conduct research that brings us closer to understanding how microbes shape and are shaped by their environment. This had led me to conducting research on the Great Lakes microbial community and its potential response to climate change. 

I am happy to answer questions about STEM or to talk about my experience as a first generation and woman in STEM. 

I like organizing outreach events for younger students and participating in student organizations. I also spend time playing games like Among Us and Wordle!  

Jessica Hart

Ph.D. Student

Committee on Evolutionary Biology

Jessi is interested in how environmental context shapes microbial genomes and the ways in which molecular processes scale to influence ecosystem function. Her current work explores patterns of microdiversity in deepwater-adapted Chloroflexi in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Previously, she studied environmental science as an undergraduate at Temple University and worked as a lab technician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia/UPenn where she studied gut-microbial interactions in the context of C. difficile infection.

Corey Rundquist

Ph.D. Student

Committee on Microbiology

I am a PhD student in the Committee on Microbiology originally from upstate New York. I originally became interested in environmental microbiology studying cool systems like the Hudson River Estuary, meromictic Green Lake, and now the Laurentian Great Lakes! In the lab, I am interested in studying the genetics of microbes with unique metabolic traits such as aerobic anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria (AAPs), as well as nitrifiers, in order to learn more about their ecological roles in aquatic environments.

Alice Turnham

Ph.D. Student

Geophysical Sciences

I graduated from Johns Hopkins university with a BSc in Molecular and Cellular Biology where I studied how the metabolism of microbes are influenced by artificial aeration systems. I'm interested in combining computational and experimental techniques to study aquatic microbial communities, including the viruses of the Great Lakes!


Sara Paver

Research Specialist

Sara earned her Ph.D. in aquatic microbial ecology at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. She joined the Coleman lab as a postdoc and played a critical role in building our Great Lakes time series. Sara's current work focuses on the ecological genomics of picocyanobacteria in the Great Lakes.


Zoey Papka

Undergraduate Student 

I am a fourth-year environmental science & biology major at UChicago. For my senior honors thesis, I developed a microbial timeseries collected at Promontory Point, Lake Michigan. In the lab, I have also worked on Synechococcus physiology.

Clair Long

Undergraduate Student

I’m an undergraduate majoring in Environmental Science! I fell in love with microbes after taking Global Biogeochemical Cycles and Environmental Microbiology. I am continuing weekly collections for a full year time series analysis of the microbial communities in Lake Michigan.

Emma Edwards

Undergraduate Student

Emma is a third-year undergraduate majoring in chemistry and environmental science. She is passionate about environmental issues and biogeochemistry! She is fascinated by microbial metabolic diversity and hopes to gain a deeper understanding of their wonders. Outside of the lab, she plays flute and bakes bread.

Lab Alumni

Michael Henson, postdoc 2020-2023: Assistant Professor, Northern Illinois University

Hanna Renedo, staff: now an MFA candidate at School of the Art Institute, Chicago

Jessica Rodriguez, undergrad & GEO-REPS postbac: now an MS student at UCSB Bren School

Anna Warsaw, undergrad: now a tech at UCSB Wilbanks lab

Justin Podowski, Ph.D. 2022: Assistant Computational Biologist at Argonne National Laboratory

Gabriel Vargas, Ph.D. 2020: Postdoc in the Currie Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Petra Byl, undergraduate: Ph.D. candidate in oceanography, University of Hawaii

Xiufeng Ma, Ph.D. 2017: Senior Data Scientist at Octane

Daniel Muratore, undergraduate: Ph.D. Georgia Tech, postdoc Santa Fe Institute

Sean Gibbons, Ph.D. 2015: Associate Professor, Institute for Systems Biology

Kate Campbell, technician: Ph.D. candidate in viral ecology, Texas A&M Galveston

Jesse Black, technician: M.S. University of Hawaii, fisheries researcher

Sarah Giuliani, lab manager: private industry

Shane Coffield, undergrad: Ph.D. UC Irvine - Earth System Science, postdoc NASA Goddard

Maitreyee Mukherjee, postdoc 2013-2015: Assistant Professor of Biology, West Texas A&M University

Kyra Grantz, undergraduate: Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University - infectious disease epidemiology

Didi Bojanova, undergraduate: PhD. University of Southern California - geobiology

Rachel Folz, undergraduate: M.D. Thomas Jefferson University, Assistant Professor Rush University Medical Center

Michael Kang, technician: M.D. UChicago Pritzker School of Medicine, anesthesiologist

Naama Dekel-Bird, technician: Ph.D. Weizmann Institute, postdoc Merck