May 23, 2024

Science Forum: UT professor discusses modern exploration, microbes

UT professor educates students about microbes and Earth’s surface at the UT Science Forum.

Humanities and Social Sciences building //photo by Courtney Anderson

University of Tennessee, Knoxville Microbiology professor Karen Lloyd discussed how science today is about exploration as part of UT’s Science Forum series this week.

“The bar that we have to jump over is to find new things about nature that no one ever knew before,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd then discussed in depth about the microbes that are living deep in the Earth’s surface.

“Ideally we’d really like to find the microbes that are living deep in the earth and getting expelled when the water is rushing past them. That’s really what we’d like to see,” Lloyd said. “But, we are also interested in that interface…what happens when these deep subterranean fluids that have never seen the light of day come to the surface.”

Additionally, Lloyd explained where microbiologists work in terms of microbiology and hot springs and what sparked her interest in microbes in the first place.

“Most of the work that’s been done on microbiology and hot springs has been done in Yellowstone National Park, which is a completely different system,” Lloyd said. “My interest in these very strange microbes comes from the fact that I would like to know how all of life interconnects.”

Lloyd concluded her lecture by explaining how microbiologists still have so much to learn when it comes to microbiology deep in the Earth’s surface.

“We’re modern-day explorers. There is so much that we don’t know. We have so much more work left to do,” Lloyd said.

“It’s pretty incredible to see how much is uncertain when it comes to microbiology deep in the earth,” UT sophomore Chase Hamilton said. “So much more valuable information will come out in the future and I can’t wait to hear all about it.”

Nashville native John Whale also commented on the importance of microbes:

“People don’t understand how important these microbes are. Microbes make life-saving drugs, they manufacture biofuels, they clean up pollution and they help process and produce foods.”

More information about microbiology and Lloyd’s projects can be found on the Lloyd Lab website.


Edited by Ciera Noe and Kaitlin Flippo

Featured image by Courtney Anderson

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