Plenary and Invited Speakers
The Biogeosphere Above and Below our Feet: Towards a Better Understanding of Sustainability in the Environment, Now and in the Future
Stay tuned to this page because, as speakers confirm, we will continue to add their information here.
Dr. Kurt Konhauser
Dr. Kurt Konhauser is a Professor of Geobiology at the University of Alberta. His research answers critical questions about the co-evolution of life and Earth’s surface environments throughout geologic history. Some of the highlights include understanding the mechanisms underpinning the adsorption of metals to bacteria and biomineral formation to using modern biogeochemical cycling to infer the timing of our planet’s oxygenation. Through his active promotion of the field via Editor in Chief of the journal Geobiology, author of the textbook Introduction to Geomicrobiology and founder of the Geobiology Society, it has matured into a prolific research frontier.
Kurt's Plenary Talk will open the Joint Symposium Sunday evening. He will take us on a journey of the origins of cyanobacteria, the history of oxygen on Earth, and the evolution of aerobic respiration that affects oxidative weathering and nutrient transport to the oceans where primary production increases. Recognizing these feedback processes is critical to understanding how the biogeosphere above and below our feet has changed through time.
Dr. William C. Ghiorse
A Brief History of Subsurface Microbiology and Biogeochemistry
Dr. William "Bill" Ghiorse is a pioneer in deep subsurface and groundwater microbiology. He is currently Professor Emeritus in the Department of Microbiology at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York (USA). He has been the Editor-in-Chief of Geomicrobiology Journal since 1995. Bill's main research focus has been on the geomicrobiology and biogeochemistry of manganese-oxidizing bacteria, but throughout his career, he has also been involved in many projects that lead to the development and application of different sampling methods, enumeration and quantitative approaches, and molecular genetics tools used today in microbial ecology and environmental microbiology.
Bill's Plenary Talk will focus on the early days of exploration to understand the microbiology of the deep subsurface and groundwater. Although microbiologists acknowledged the presence and activity of microbes in the subsurface, such as in petroleum reservoirs and groundwater, widespread acceptance that microbes play significant roles in subsurface biogeochemical processes did not come until the 1980s and 1990s. Beginning with interests in understanding groundwater contamination, Bill was among the early innovators who pushed the limits of knowledge and developed methods and aseptic approaches to determine the activity and identity of microbes throughout the subsurface. Recognizing these contributions and achievements from the past will undoubtedly inspire future generations.
Dr. Danielle Fortin
Dr. Danielle Fortin is a world-renowned leader in geochemistry and geomicrobiology. She has been involved in both ISEB and ISSM for almost two decades and is currently the outgoing president of ISSM. She established one of the first geomicrobiology research groups in Canada in 1997, and is currently a Full Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Ottawa, Canada. Danielle has received several national and international awards over the years, including recently being elected Fellow of the Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry. Her research on iron cycling and biogeochemistry in natural environments has provided the scientific community with a better understanding of the role played by bacteria in contaminant cycling and iron mineral formation.
Danielle's Plenary Talk will "Close" the Joint Symposium. She will educate us on the week's themes, advancements, and novel findings, as well as point to the challenges that continue to push us to make new discoveries and critical innovations. From this foundation, we will be inspired to work towards solving societal problems and improving biogeosphere sustainability. The future for our organizations is bright. This will be a memorable, motivational talk not to miss!
Dr. Lesley Warren
Bioengineering for Sustainable Development: Water, Mining, and Microbes
Dr. Lesley Warren is an industry trailblazer, at the vanguard of biogeochemical investigation of mining environmental contexts. She holds the Claudette Mackay Lassonde Chair in Mineral Engineering in the Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering at the University of Toronto, Canada. She is the leader of the Mining, Water and Environment research group. Lesley is also the first female Director of the Lassonde Institute of Mining at the University of Toronto (2018-present). As a leading expert, she has partnered with numerous energy and mining industry companies, consortia, and governmental agencies around the globe. Her disruptive biosystems approach, which targets strategic identification of the underpinning microbially linked risks and opportunities occurring in mining wastes and wastewaters, supports adaptive environmental management and sound reclamation.
Lesley's exciting talk will focus on the largely unexplored microbiome in mining waste and the development of innovative technologies to transform mining water stewardship. Water scarcity and diminishing water quality are global grand challenges that require radical new solutions if sustainable development goals are to be met. Globally, mining is the 2nd largest industrial user of water, generating copious volumes of degraded wastewater that continue to pose risks to environments and communities because preventative technologies do not currently exist. Without innovative technological solutions, mining associated threats to global water supplies could surpass those being averted through proposed climate mitigation associated with renewable energy production.