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Prof. Dr. William Orsi

Positions

  • 2016-Present Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Paleontology and Geobiology, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München
  • 2014-2015 Postdoctoral Investigator, Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
  • 2013-2014 Assistant Research Scientist, Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences (UMCES)
  • 2011-2013 Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
  • 2006-2011 Graduate Researcher, Biology Department, Northeastern University

Education

  • 2014-2015 Postdoctoral research in paleoclimate and geomicrobiology, WHOI
  • 2013-2014 Postdoctoral research in marine microbial carbon cycling, UMCES
  • 2011-2013 Postdoctoral research in geomicrobiology, WHOI
  • 2006-2011 Ph.D. in Biology, Northeastern University
  • 2002-2006 B.S. in Biology with honors, Temple University

Fellowships and Research Awards

  • 2016-2017 Junior Researcher Award (DFG excellence initiative) research grant awarded: “Genome evolution over geological timescales in marine sediment”
  • 2014-2015 Deep Ocean Exploration Institute (WHOI) research grant awarded:
    “Geosphere-biosphere interactions at a cretaceous “Lost City’-type hydrothermal system at the Iberia Margin”
  • 2014-2015 Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations research grant awarded: “Microbial activity in oxygenated subseafloor sediment”
  • 2014 Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations Research Travel and Exchange grant awarded
  • 2012-2013 Ocean Life Institute (WHOI) research grant awarded:
    “Presence and activity of subseafloor Fungi in multiple geochemical settings”
  • 2012-2013 Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations research grant awarded: “The distribution and activity of marine subsurface Fungi”
  • 2012 Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations travel grant awarded
  • 2011-2013 Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations postdoctoral fellowship:
    “Worldwide exploration of fungal distributions and activities in subseafloor sediment”

Honors, Awards, Publicity

  • 2015 Interview for Deutschlandfunk radio broadcast: “It lives! Between the Ocean and Earth” (December 25th)
  • 2014 Science World Report, research highlight: “How Subseafloor Bacteria Survive in Harsh Conditions: Over-Activating DNA Repair” (June 16th)
  • 2014 LA Times, Science Now research highlight: “How stressed-out microbes survive 500-feet beneath the ocean floor” (June 13th)
  • 2014 Geochemical News (EAG) Press Release: “Subseafloor bacteria survive by over-activating DNA-repair and antibiotic target genes” (June 13th)
  • 2014 Electron micrograph selected as cover artwork for the Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology
  • 2013 Featured Interview on Nature Podcast, “What Lives Under the Seafloor” (June 13th)
  • 2013 Spektrum.de Research Highlight, “Deep Biosphere, The Creatures from the Underworld” (July 12th)
  • 2013 LiveScience Research News Highlight, “Thriving Microbe Community Lives Beneath Seafloor” (June 12th)
  • 2013 WHOI Press Release, “Deep Biosphere Harbors Active, Growing Communities of Microorganisms” (June 12th)
  • 2013 OurAmazingPlanet Research News Highlight, “Ancient Fungus Discovered Deep Under Ocean Floor” (March 5th)
  • 2013 WHOI Press Release, “Fungi Flourish Below the Seafloor” (March 1st)
  • 2013 Electron microscopy photographs chosen as cover artwork for Forschung, the German Science Foundation (DFG) Magazine
  • 2012 Electron microscopy photographs chosen as cover artwork for The International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology
  • 2011-2012 Electron microscopy photographs chosen as cover artwork for The ISME Journal
  • 2006 Charles Hodge IV Prize for excellence in undergraduate research

Research Interests

  • Heterotrophic microbial carbon cycling
  • Aquatic microbial loop
  • Diagenesis
  • Ancient DNA
  • Palaeoclimate
  • Palaeomicrobiology

Teaching and Mentoring Experience

  • 2016-present Field course instructor for Geobiology II, part of Geoscience Bachelors Program at LMU Munich
  • 2016-present Lecturer and lab instructor for module “Molecular Methods” Masters course in Geobiology and Paleobiology Program (MGAP), at LMU Munich
  • 2016-present Lecturer and lab instructor for module “Laboratory Methods” Masters course in Geobiology and Paleobiology Program (MGAP), at LMU Munich
  • 2016-present Vice-chair of selection committee for Masters Program in Geobiology and Paleobiology (MGAP), at LMU Munich
  • 2015 Invited lecturer for the SUCCESS (Shaping and Understanding Career Choices in Education, Science and Self) workshop, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA (August 8th)
  • 2013 Invited lecturer for the EU-US theoretical and practical training course on marine bioinformatics, Delaware Biotechnology Institute, Delaware (June 17-30th)
  • 2012 Invited lecturer for the marine biology workshop for international high school students, WHOI
  • 2012 Mentor for the Falmouth Academy High School Science Fair (Falmouth, MA)
  • 2006-2011 Teaching Assistant, Introduction to Microbiology, Biology Department, Northeastern University
  • 2010 Teaching Assistant, Introduction to Biology, Biology Department, Northeastern University

Professional Activities and Service

  • 2016-present Reviewer for French National Research Agency (ANR) ‘Living Earth’ Scientific Evaluation Committee
  • 2016-present Reviewer for Geology
  • 2015 Panel member for NASA Earth Science and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF); graduate student fellowship application selections
  • 2015-present Junior Ambassador for the U.S.A. to the International Society of Microbial Ecology
  • 2015-present Reviewer for Microorganisms
  • 2015-present Reviewer for Environmental Microbiology
  • 2015-present Reviewer for Geobiology
  • 2015-present Reviewer for Marine Chemistry
  • 2015-present Reviewer for Deep Sea Research
  • 2015-present Reviewer for NASA Astrobiology Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
  • 2015-present Reviewer for NSF-OCE Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
  • 2014-present Reviewer for Estuarine, Costal, and Shelf Science
  • 2014-present Reviewer for BMC Biology
  • 2014-present Reviewer for C-DEBI Graduate Student Fellowship Program
  • 2013-present Reviewer for NSF Bio-OCE Program
  • 2013-present Junior member of the Ethics Panel for the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI)
  • 2013-present Member of the Geochemical Society
  • 2013 Co-chair of session B015: “Carbon Transformations in Hydrothermal Systems”. American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting, San Francisco
  • 2013-present Reviewer for Nature Scientific Reports
  • 2013-present Reviewer for The Biological Bulletin
  • 2013-present Reviewer for Limnology and Oceanography
  • 2013-present Reviewer for FEMS Microbiology Letters
  • 2013-present Reviewer for Protist
  • 2012-present Reviewer for FEMS Microbial Ecology
  • 2012-present Reviewer for Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
  • 2012-present Reviewer for The ISME Journal
  • 2010-present Reviewer for Applied and Environmental Microbiology
  • 2010-present Review Editor for Frontiers in Extreme Microbiology
  • 2008-present Member of the International Society of Microbial Ecology (ISME)

Field Experience

  • 2013 Central California Current, North Pacific: Oceanographic research cruise (R/V Western Flyer), performed as a part of the Moore Microbiology Initiative (MMI) project: “Life on the dark side: Complex trophic interactions of marine microbial eukaryotes”, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Responsibilities included implementation of DNA stable-isotope (13C and 15N) probing bottle experiments to study microbial transformations of particulate organic matter and the resulting impact on rates of carbon and nitrogen remineralization.
  • 2009, 2011 Eastern Mediterranean Sea: Two oceanographic research cruises (August 2009 on R/V Oceanus, and December 2011 on R/V Atlantis) to deep-sea hypersaline anoxic brines in the Mediterranean Sea as a part of an international collaboration and NSF grant #OCE-0849578. Responsibilities included preparation, deployment, and collection of samples and sampling equipment (Niskin bottles and two in situ robotic water samplers).
  • 2006-2009 Caribbean Sea, Venezuela: Four oceanographic research cruises (R/V Hermano Ginés) to the anoxic Cariaco Basin, Venezuela as a part of an international collaboration and NSF Microbial Observatory Grant # 532550-MCB-0348341. Responsibilities included preparation, deployment, and collection of samples and sampling equipment (Niskin bottles and an in situ robotic water sampler).

Technical Expertise

  • Stable isotope probing: Proficient in stable isotope (13C and 15N) labeling of microbial DNA and RNA (DNA-SIP, RNA-SIP) using organic and inorganic (bicarbonate) substrates and density gradient ultracentrifugation.
    Molecular methods: DNA extraction, rRNA extraction, mRNA extraction, protein extraction, PCR, RT-PCR, qPCR, RT-qPCR, single cell genome amplification (MDA), molecular cloning, FISH, CARD-FISH, metatranscriptome sample and library preparations.
  • Microscopy: Light microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, and scanning and transmission electron microscopy.
    Microbial cultivation: Aseptic technique, aerobic and anaerobic cultivation of Bacteria, Protozoa, and Fungi.
  • Bioinformatics: Proficient in bioinformatic analysis of high-throughput 454, Illumina, and Sanger sequence data from DNA and RNA datasets. Proficient in assembly, read mapping, taxonomic and functional assignment of genomic, metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data using PhymmBL, MEGAN, HMMer, CLC genomics workbench, and BLASTn/x/p. Extensive experience with analysis of rRNA data, including sequence-based phylogenetic inference and multivariate spatial ecology analyses using ARB, QIIME, and R. Extensive experience with Linux based systems.
  • Genomics: Proficient in comparative genomics and genome visualizations using Circos, RAST, and Artemis. Genome recruitment of metaomics data for statistical over- and under-recruitment analyses to metabolic pathways (e.g., KEGG, RAST, and IMG pathways) using custom perl scripts.
  • Programming skills: Proficient in programming with Perl and R for bioinformatics. Over 10 years experience with development of DNA data infrastructure and workflow optimization.
    Statistics: Proficient in using the R statistical language for data visualization and statistical analysis of microbial genomes, high throughput DNA/RNA sequence data, and biogeochemical metadata.
    Foreign languages spoken: Fluent in conversational German and basic language skills in Spanish.

Oral Presentations: National and International Meetings, Invited Talks*

  • 2016 “Shedding light on the ocean’s deep, dark biosphere”, presented at the Frontiers in Geoscience seminar series in the Munich Geocenter at Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich Germany.*
  • 2016 “Climate oscillations reflected in the Arabian Sea subseafloor microbiome”, presented at the European Geosciences Union (EGU), in the Open Session on Climate: Past, Present, and Future. Vienna, Austria.*

  • 2016 “Shedding light on the ocean’s deep, dark biosphere”, presented at the Center for Nanoscience (CeNS) seminar series in the Biophysics department at Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich Germany.*

  • 2015 “Marine microbial responses to past and present water column anoxia”, presented at the Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island.*
  • 2015 Plenary presentation: “Microbial ecosystem-climate dynamics over the last glacial interglacial cycle in the Arabian Sea”, presented at the International Meeting of Organic Geochemistry in Prague (Czech Republic).*
  • 2015 “Microbial life in low oxygen”, presented at the University of Maryland Horn Point Laboratory.*
  • 2015 “Nucleic acid insights into present and past microbial activities in marine sediments”, presented at Princeton University.*
  • 2015 “Unraveling complex microbial interactions with organic matter”, presented at the University of Munich.*
  • 2014 “Linkages between microbial ecophysiology and particulate organic matter”, presented at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) meeting in Liblice, Czech Republic.
  • 2014 Keynote speaker for the Geobiology Session 18f: “Life and Death: Molecular biomarkers to study current and past ecosystems”, presented at the 2014 Goldschmidt conference, Sacramento, CA. *
  • 2014 “Microbial ecology from a molecular perspective, potential implications for biogeochemistry”, presented at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY. *
  • 2014 “Interactions between marine Euryarchaeota and picoeukaryotes in the Central California Current”, presented in the Marine Microbial Ecology session (069) at the 2014 Ocean Sciences conference, Honolulu, HI. *
  • 2014 “Gene expression in the deep biosphere”, presented at the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations NSF site visit, University of Southern California, CA.*
  • 2013 “Shedding light on the ocean’s deep, dark biosphere: investigations of microbial activity, distributions, and evolution in sub-seafloor sediments”, presented at the University of Bremen (MARUM), Bremen, Germany.*
  • 2013 “Marine microbial interactions: new insights and potential implications for biogeochemical cycling”, presented at the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research (IOW), Warnemünde, Germnay*
  • 2013 “Microbial ecology from a molecular perspective, potential implications for biogeochemistry”, presented at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (Horn Point Laboratory) seminar series, Cambridge, MD. *
  • 2013 “Gene expression in the deep biosphere”, presented at the 2013 Goldschmidt conference, Florence, Italy. *
  • 2013 “A molecular perspective on microbial ecology: new insights and potential implications for marine biogeochemistry”, presented at the WHOI Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department seminar series, Woods Hole, MA. *
  • 2013 “Metatranscriptomics: snapshots of microbial activity”, presented at the international EU-US marine bioinformatics workshop, University of Delaware, Newark, DE. *
  • 2013 “Molecular insights into the ecology of marine protists”, presented at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.*
  • 2012 “Active Fungi amidst a marine subsurface RNA paleome”, presented at the 2012 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA. *
  • 2012 “Microbial ecology from a molecular perspective”, presented at the international high-school marine biology workshop, Woods Hole, MA. *
  • 2011 “Protistan microbial observatory in the Cariaco Basin”, presented at the WHOI Biology Department Seminar Series, Woods Hole, MA.
  • 2011 “Protists in anoxic and extreme Environments”, presented at the WHOI Geology and Geophysics Departmental Seminar Series, Woods Hole, MA.
  • 2011 “Protistan microbial observatory in the Cariaco Basin: insights into species richness and habitat specialization”, presented at the MIT Microbial Systems (& Beyond) seminar series, Cambridge, MA. *
  • 2011 “Protistan microbial observatory in the Cariaco Basin”, presented at the American Society for Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) meeting, Puerto Rico.