User:Gareth Trubl

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Gareth (Gary) Trubl

Contact Info

About Me

I started off my research career working under Dr. Ramzi Toucan at The University of Arizona Tree Ring Research Lab (2008). The lab host’s the largest collection of cross sections and core samples of tree rings from all over the world. As an undergraduate worker, I received, labeled, and sorted cross sections and core samples. The samples were then sanded, analyzed, and photographed for documentation and either archived or used to support graduate student research.

USDA lab

At the start of my undergraduate career, I was interested in environmental policy and was selected to attend the 56th Presidential Inauguration and University Presidential Inaugural Conference through National Society of Collegiate Scholars (January 19-23, 2009). I joined undergraduates from all over the US and spent five days in Washington D.C. meeting with politicians and watching the Presidential Inauguration. The First night we attended a Gala at the Warden Hotel going over the itinerary for the trip and networking with the other scholars. The next two days were filled with a combination of sightseeing and lectures from Colin Powell, Al Gore, James Carville, and Mary Matalin. On Inauguration day, we sat at the base of the capital and witnessed the historic day. The rest of the day was spent interviewing political campaigners and strategist to learn more of the field and their experiences. The days following the inauguration we met with high school and middle school students and spook with them about the election.

I have always had a love for the environment and have been interested in how science and policy can shape our future. After taking my first microbiology course, I quickly realized that I loved the field and needed to incorporate it into my career. My career continued under Dr. Peter Cotty at The United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS; 2009-2011). The laboratory leads aflatoxin management through improved understanding of aflatoxin-producing fungi and the aflatoxin contamination process. Responsibilities included studies of the etiology and epidemiology of contamination as well as adaptation, divergence, dispersal, pathogenicity, morphogenesis, and cellular regulation of fungi. Experiments included (1) extraction and analysis of B1 toxin and cyclopiazonic acid, (2) competition studies, (3) seed coating, (4) fungal isolate diversity, and (5) complementation tests to determine vegetative compatibility groups. My undergraduate research project was Atoxigenic strains of Aspergillus flavus as a biocontrol for maize. I absolutely enjoyed working in this lab and stayed with the lab until I received my B.S. in Environmental Microbiology, minor in chemistry, from the University of Arizona in 2011.

Image credit: NASA

My research led me to work under Dr. Alison Murray at The Desert Research Institute in The Molecular Microbial Ecology Laboratory (2011-2013). The Project focus was the biogeochemistry and microbial diversity in brine from Lake Vida, East Antarctica. Lake Vida is known as one of the most extreme environments on earth and an excellent analog for icy worlds such as Enceladus and Europa. My thesis entitled "Insights into the origin of N2O in Lake Vida brine" looked at abiotic and biological factors to determine the origin of the nitrous oxide N2O in Lake Vida brine and to determine if site preference can be used to distinguish between abiotic and biological N2O production. I received my M.S. in Environmental Science and Health (ES&H) from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2013.

Abisko, Sweden

My passion for polar and extreme environments took me back to The University of Arizona (2013-Spring 2015), where I was pursuing a Ph.D. in Soil, Water and Environmental Science (SWES) and minors in Astrobiology and Global Change. I was working in the Soil, Water and Environmental Science-Microbial Ecology Laboratory (SWES-MEL) under Dr. Virginia Rich. We moved to The Ohio State University (Fall 2015-current), where I am now in the Microbiology department and co-advised by Dr. Matthew Sullivan in the Virus Lab. Our project focus is to predict ecosystem and planetary response to a changing climate, scaling from microorganisms to ecosystem processes. We propose to meet this challenge of scaling from the genomic diversity of communities to ecosystem-scale processes, i.e. “from genes to ecosystems,” by deconstructing and quantifying the stepwise linkages involved. My role is to help examine microbes’ and viruses’ metabolic potential (via genomes and metagenomes) and expressed metabolism (via metaproteomes) and quantitatively relating it to biogeochemical fluxes. Our study site is Stordalen Mire in Northern Sweden. My Ph.D. research is to understand the viruses inhabiting this site. I am interested in who's there, what they are doing, learning more about the viral communities present, and how they impact biogeochemical cycling. My research is part of the DOE-funded IsoGenie collaboration with co-investigators: Saleska Lab (Univ. of Arizona), Tyson Lab (Univ. of Queensland), Crill Lab (Stockholm Univ.), Chanton Lab (Florida State Univ.), Li and Frolking Labs (Univ. of New Hampshire), Sullivan lab (OSU), and Abisko Research Station in Sweden.

Stordalen mire field site (May 2014)

My goal is to become a microbial ecologist (researching viruses, bacteria, archaea, fungi, and everything else) using culturing and non-culturing techniques to understand the biogeochemistry of Earth. I am specifically interested in polar research and the key knowledge we can learn to explore extraterrestrial life (using cryo-ecosystems as analogs for icy worlds) and solve our current climate predicament. I absolutely love teaching and outreach and plan to incorporate all my research into mentoring the next generation of scientists.

Stordalen mire field site (July 2014)

Current Project

Viruses in Permafrost- understanding the viral communities along a permafrost thaw gradient (palsa --> bog --> fen). Part of "Genes, isotopes, and ecosystem biogeochemistry: dissecting methane flux at the leading edge of global change." A DOE-funded project.

Major Questions:
  • How do the viral communities change along the permafrost thaw gradient?
  • How do they relate to identities & processes in the resident microbial communities?
  • How do the viral communities change spatially and temporally?
  • How do the viral communities change between the peat and the pore-water?
  • Are the viruses in the permafrost similar to the viruses present in the active layer?
  • Are the viruses in the permafrost active?


  • 2015-Current, Ph.D. in Microbiology, The Ohio State University
Advisers Drs. Virginia Rich and Matthew Sullivan
  • 2013-2015, Ph.D. in Soil, Water, and Environmental Science, University of Arizona
Minors in Astrobiology and Global Change
Advisers Dr. Virginia Rich
  • 2011-2013, M.S. in Environmental Science and Health, University of Nevada, Reno/Desert Research Institute
Adviser Dr. Alison Murray
  • 2007-2011, B.S. in Environmental Microbiology, University of Arizona
Minor in Chemistry
Adviser Dr. Peter Cotty

Research Interests

  • Microbial Ecology
  • Polar Microbiology
  • Environmental Science
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Astrobiology
  • Geobiology
When you do research, think something viral
Virus Lab, 2016


  • Peatland soil viral communities across a permafrost thaw gradient in northern Sweden (in prep). Trubl G., Roux S., Jang H-B., Ellenbogen J., Emerson J.B., Solonenko N., Sullivan M.B., & Rich V.I.
  • Abiotic and biological sources of N2O in brine from Lake Vida, East Antarctica (in prep for AEM). Trubl G., Ostrom N.E., Kuhn E., Fritsen C.H., Doran P.T., & Murray A.E.
  • Exploring the viral response to anthropogenic impacts on the Great Barrier Reef (in prep). Trubl G., Massey L., Roux S., Vining S.R., Tyson G., Sullivan M.B., & Rich V.I.

Conference Proceedings

  • Developing Methods to Study Viral Impacts on Microbial Carbon Cycling in Thawing Permafrost. Trubl G., Roux S., Jang H-B., Solonenko N., Sullivan M.B., & Rich V.I. AGU, Fall 2016.
  • Thousands of Viral Populations Recovered from Peatland Soil Metagenomes Reveal Viral Impacts on Carbon Cycling in Thawing Permafrost. Emerson J.B., Roux S., Bolduc B., Brum J.R., Woodcroft B.J., Boyd J.A., Hodgkins S.B., Wilson R.M., Trubl G., Chanton J.P., Saleska S.R., Tyson G.W., Rich V.I., and Sullivan M.B. AGU, Fall 2016.
  • Global Ecology and Ecosystem Effects of Marine Viruses (poster). Brum J.R., Roux S., Rich V.I., Sullivan M.B., and Collaborators. 11th Annual DOE Joint Genome Institute, Genomics of Energy & the Environment Meeting, 2016
  • The IsoGenie Project: integrating high-resolution characterization of organic matter, isofluxes, and microbiota in a thawing permafrost peatland (talk). The IsoGenie Consortium. ICOP, 2016.
  • Exploring Viral Mediated Carbon Cycling in Thawing Permafrost Microbial Communities (poster). Trubl G., Solonenko N., Moreno M., Phu D., Sullivan M.B., & Rich V.I. AGU, 2014.
  • Insights into Microbial mats and possible stromatolite formation from Little Hot Creek, California (poster). Niu D., Ciscato E., Trubl G., Maldonado J.G., Berelson W.M., Johnson H.A., Stevenson B.S., Stamps B.W., Corsetti F.A., Spear J.R., and GeoBiology 2014. AGU, 2014.
  • Viral Community Structure along a Thawing Permafrost Gradient (poster). Trubl G., Solonenko N., Moreno M., Phu D., Sullivan M.B., & Rich V.I. GradBlitz, 2014.
  • Viral metaproteomics sheds light on ‘viral dark matter’ (poster). Kim E-H., Trubl G., Ignacio-Espinoza J.C., Jones R., VerBerkmoes N., Rich V.I., & Sullivan M.B. ANAS, 2014 & UA Earth week 2014.
  • The Enigmatic Nitrogen Biogeochemistry of Lake Vida, an Isolated Brine Cryoecosystem (talk). Ostrom N.E., Murray A.E., Trubl G., Kuhn E., AGU 2013.
  • The Biogeochemistry of One of Earth’s Most Extreme Environments and its Implications for Astrobiology (poster). Trubl G., Kuhn E., Ostrom N.E., Fritsen C.H., Murray A.E., UNR Graduate Student Association’s (GSA) graduate poster competition, 2013.
  • Life in One of Earth’s Most Extreme Environments (talk). Trubl G., Kuhn E., Murray A.E., Nevada Board of Regents meeting in Las Vegas, 2013.
  • Biogeochemistry and Genetic Potential Related to Denitrification of Heterotrophic Bacteria Isolated from Lake Vida Brine (poster). Trubl G., Kuhn E., Ichimura A.S., Fritsen C.H., Madigan M.T., Murray A.E., American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2012.
  • The Enigmatic Nitrogen Biogeochemistry of Lake Vida, an Isolated Brine Cryoecosystem (poster). Ostrom N.E., Murray A.E., Trubl G., Kuhn E., International Symposium on Isotopomers (ISI), 2012.
  • Microbial Denitrification in Lake Vida Cryobrine (poster). Trubl G., Kuhn E., Ostrom N.E., Murray A.E., Arizona Nevada Academy of Sciences (ANAS), 2012.
  • Methanogenic Archaea in Arctic Thermokarst Lakes in Alaska (talk). Matheus-Carnevali P., Dodsworth J., Kuhn E., Trubl G., Rohrssen M., Murray A.E., Geobiology Symposium, UC Riverside, 2012.


  • Graduate Research Assistant, The Ohio State University (OSU), Columbus, Ohio (2015 – Present). Previously the University of Arizona
Overall project focus is to quantify and predict thawing permafrost response to a changing climate. My work determines the role of viruses through characterizing their ecology, contribution to host metabolic genes and expressed metabolism. This work is being performed via meta- genomics and proteomics.
Advisers Drs. Virginia Rich & Matthew Sullivan
  • Graduate Research Assistant, Desert Research Institute (DRI)/University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), Nevada System of Higher Education, Reno, Nevada (2011 – 2013)
Project focus was to better understand the microbial diversity, biogeochemistry, and specifically the nitrogen cycle physiology of bacteria in brine from Lake Vida, Antarctica. This work :used microbial culture techniques (aerobically and anaerobically) using isolates from this habitat to then study their roles in biogeochemical cycling, with a focus on N2O production. To :do this, I screened cultivars for genes and proteins of interest, quantified their biogeochemistry and used stable isotope techniques to identify isotopomers and isotopologues of N2O to :determine the source (abiotic or biological) and pathways involved in its cycling.
Adviser: Dr. Alison Murray
  • Biological Aid, United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS; 2009 – 2011)
The laboratory leads aflatoxin management through improved understanding of aflatoxin-producing fungi and the aflatoxin contamination process. Responsibilities included studies of the :etiology and epidemiology of contamination as well as adaptation, divergence, dispersal, pathogenicity, morphogenesis, and cellular regulation of fungi. Experiments included (1) :extraction and analysis of B1 toxin and cyclopiazonic acid, (2) seed coating, and (3) fungal isolate diversity.
Adviser: Dr. Peter Cotty
  • Lab Technician, UA, Tree Ring Research Lab (2008)
Received, labeled, and sorted cross sections and core samples. Sanded, analyzed, and photographed samples to support graduate student research.
Supervisor: Dr. Ramzi Touchan

Teaching, Outreach, & other experiences

Theme-"Earth Analog Environments and the Search for Life Beyond the Earth"
Interdisciplinary examination of the chemical, physical, and geological properties of potential extraterrestrial habitats and an in-depth description and analysis of sites on Earth with similar characteristics. In particular, lectures and activities considered icy satellites, rocky planets in the Solar System, extreme Earth environments, and terrestrial exoplanets.
NASA-ESA 2016 summer group
Zumaia Flysch, Spain
I evaluated talks and posters for the biological sciences section of the undergraduate forum March 30, 2016. Prior to this, judges attended a two-hour training session. Applicants were rated on (1) poster presentation (if applicable) :including research content, visual graphics, grammar, and conclusions; (2) oral presentation including appropriate terminology, poise/presentation, knowledge of work, and organization/flow.
  • The Ohio State University Viromics training course, Columbus, OH
The course was held Feb. 8-9 and training included the iVirus pipeline part of the CyVerse infrastructure and MetaVir. With iVirus we learned how to quality check metagenomics sequences, assembly, VirSorter, and mapping the reads to contigs for coverage. MetaVir is a web server designed to annotate viral metagenomic sequences. With these tools, we were able to give our data ecological meaning.
Directors: Drs. Matthew Sullivan, Simon Roux, and Ben Bolduc
Sky school Fellowship
Sky School is 1-5 day Science programs for Arizona K-12 students at the 25-acre Mt. Lemmon campus. My fellowship was for the 2014-2015 school year. Programs focus on core UA science areas :such as sky island ecology, biology, geology, and astronomy and have been developed in collaboration with local school districts to meet Arizona State and Next Generation Science :Standards. I specifically bridge biology and astronomy and share the field of astrobiology with the students. Fellowship Responsibilities include participating in at least 4-5 Sky School :events in during each semester, in which leading daytime activities and participating in evening activities. Daytime activities are for a group of 5-10 students and include sample :collection, learning projects, and demonstrations. 3+ day trips include a science inquiry project, which is presented before they leave, and an in-depth learning experience on the :graduate fellows field of study.
Director Dr. Alan Strauss
Sky school
March 14-15, 2015 I was a co-exhibitor for the Sky School booth at Science City part of the Tucson Festival of Books. It is the 2nd largest book festival and largest book and science :festival. Our booth had several meteorite samples and thin sections that students could view under the microscopes. We also had some neat giveaways to encourage and promote STEM :education. We also had material on the OSIRIS-Rex mission led by NASA. This huge festival draws a diverse group of people from all over the world. This year we got a special visit from :former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and me
On Feb. 23, 2015 from 7:30-3:30 I was a co-exhibitor for the Sky School both at Sahuarita middle school SciTech festival. There were 480 6th-8th graders that participated and went to each :booth to answer questions in their “passport”. The Shy School booth question was: How can meteorites give us information on the formation of the solar system. Our booth had several :meteorite samples and thin sections that students could view under the microscopes. We also had material on the OSIRIS-Rex mission led by NASA.
Contact: Rebecca Lipson (
October 4 and 18, 2014, I led an Earth Sciences outreach event for visitors of B2 from 4-8pm. Each event incorporated geology and microbiology and was catered to that date’s theme.
Contact: Dr. Pacifica Sommers (
I reviewed and evaluated travel grant applications submitted to UA GPSC for the Nov. 1, 2014 deadline. Applicants were rated on four topics: (1) professional development, (2) description :of their work, (3) description of the event and the student’s efforts to secure funding, and (4) their proposed budget for the event.
On September 5, 2014 I led an Earth Sciences day outreach event for all the 3rd-grade classes (44 students) at Lake Pleasant Elementary. We taught each object of strand 6: Earth and Space :Science from the Arizona Science Standards. The day started with learning about the layers of the Earth, then minerals, the three rock types, the rock cycle, fossils, and fossil fuel. :Songs, activities, and demonstrations were incorporated, including my famous Cheetos fossil experiment.
Contact: Mrs. Michelle Kist (
A 5-week intense course. The first two weeks involved traveling around Southern California and Nevada collecting stromatolites, environmental, and microbial samples. Sample sites included :Walker Lake, Mt. Dunfee, Rowlands Reef, and Little Hot Creek. Weeks 3 and 4 were at CSU-Fullerton processing samples and coming up to speed on modern geological and biological techniques. :The final week was at the USC Wrigley institute for environmental studies on Catalina Island, where we pulled data and analyses to write and present a final report.
Dates: June 8-July 10, 2014
Final project and presentation: How do microbial mats become stromatolites?
Directors: Dr. Frank Corsetti ( and Dr. John Spear (
GeoBiology 2014
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences (SEES) hosted EarthWeek at UA. The SWES department had their own designated day full of oral presentations by undergraduate and graduate students. :In 2014, I was in charge of student recruitment for presentations for the SWES department. I reviewed oral & poster abstracts that were submitted, ordered food, created sessions, reserved :rooms, and judged posters. For 2015 I was chair of the SWES department and a member of the UA SEES EarthWeek. I continued my previous year's duties, along with acting as social chair for :the University; this included planning several trivia nights to encourage city-wide participation in EarthWeek.
  • La Cima Middle School Career Shadow Day, Tucson, Arizona
I hosted four students for two hours interested in marine microbiology. For the first hour, I led a discussion about aspects of the field, necessary education, and career options. The :second hour involved a tour of the laboratory involving a discussion of equipment and methods.
La Cima coordinator: Vaughn Croft (
As the event coordinator I confirmed logistics for the event with Arizona MESA (a university-based outreach program). I planned the activity schedule, recruited activity leaders, :identified keynote speakers, arranged for activity supplies and student prizes, organized volunteers, taught activities to volunteers, ordered snacks for students, provided feedback to :volunteers, and led the event. The goal was to excite ~80 underrepresented middle school students about STEM fields, college, and sponsor future science-related events. In February 2014 :the theme was "Astonishing Astrobiology" and in November 2014, the theme was "A Geological Perspective on Life".
March 1-3, 2013 a festival celebrating extreme environments was held at Death Valley National Park to get the public involved in STEM activities. The agenda included presentations, booth :expositions, and field trips (Badwater basin and other park sites). I presented posters to the public, showcased DRI, and collected samples on field trips with youth for viewing under a :microscope. Attendees also camped at the park overnight and participated in astrological activities.
  • Graduate outreach aid, University of Nevada, Reno for George L. Dilworth Middle School
We visited weekly through the fall and episodically through the spring. Topics and activities included microbiology mysteries (e.g., 1854 cholera outbreak, 1993 Milwaukee Cryptosporidium :outbreak), chemistry demonstrations (e.g., vinegar and baking soda, Coke and Mentos), and math lessons (e.g., calculating how much water we use in a year). Primary activities included :interacting with students to solve science problems, working with students to develop STEM research projects, and participating in career day.
Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry 2012
Dates: May 7-11 2012
Instructors: Dr. Nathaniel Ostrom ( and
Dr. Peggy Ostrom (
  • Preceptor, University of Arizona, NATS 101: A Geological Perspective
Class was three units with a mandatory discussion session. I co-taught the discussion for a semester with a graduate student; taught the discussion session independently for next three :semesters (25-30 students). The focus was on a single geological topic with a group assignment. I graded all the assignments and submitted the scores. Professor: :Dr. Jessica Kapp


UNR CABNR Award Ceremony April 2013. Dr. Glenn Miller and me
  • National Society of Collegiate Scholars
  • National Scholars Honor Society
  • Phi Kappa Phi honor society
  • Golden Key International Honour Society
  • National Blue Key Honorary (UA, 2009-2011)
  • Hope L. Jones Scholarship (2008)
  • W.H. Fuller Scholarship (2009)
  • T. F. Buehrer Scholarship (2010)
  • George L. Jones Scholarship (2010)
  • Great Lakes National Scholarship Program recipient (2013, $2,500)
  • UNR Graduate Student Association (GSA) travel grants (Fall 2011 for AGU, $500; Spring 2012 ASM, $500; Fall 2012 for AGU, $500)
  • UNR GSA’s poster competition 3rd place (2013, $650)
  • DRI poster competition 1st place (2013, $200)
  • Graduate student representative for the Division of Earth and Ecosystems at DRI (Fall 2011- Spring 2013)
UNR GSA Award night with fellow grads
  • College of Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Natural Resource’s Outstanding Graduate Student 2013
  • SWES graduate student representative (Fall 2013- Spring 2015)
  • Student Representative for UA Global Change minor committee (Fall 2014- Spring 2015)
  • SWES 2013-2014 excellent graduate student ($5,000)
  • SWES 2014-2015 excellent graduate student ($1,000)
  • H. E. Carter Travel Award ($600; 2014)
  • GPSC Travel Award ($750; 2014)
  • SWES Travel Award ($300; 2014)
  • United States Permafrost Association Travel Award ($500; 2014)
  • Great Lakes National Scholarship Program recipient (2015, $2,500)
  • Full scholarship to the 2016 Nasa astrobiology institute summer school in Santander, Spain (2016, ~$3,000)
  • Great Lakes National Scholarship Program recipient (2016, $2,500)