Cara Santelli, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

Ph.D. – MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography, Marine Geomicrobiology, 2007
B.S.  –  University of Wisconsin – Madison, Geology, 2000
Cara’s CV

I am a geomicrobiologist who is interested in all things minerals, microbes, and metals.  I grew up in northern Minnesota (on a banded iron formation!) which fueled my passion for the outdoors, the environment, geology, and access to clean water.  I also enjoy yoga, hiking, camping, dark chocolate, coffee, museums, and hanging out with my family. You can follow me on twitter: @biominerals

CarlaRosenfeldCarla Rosenfeld, Ph.D.
NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Research Associate
Carla’s CV

I am an environmental chemist who is interested in how biological organisms control metal toxicity and persistence in soils. With funding from an NSF EAR fellowship, I have been performing culture-based studies to explore the chemical and biological mechanisms underlying metal transformations, and field-based studies to understand the role that whole microbial communities have on metal transformations in the environment. Outside of the lab, I enjoy biking, baking, hiking, and anything else that gets me outside.

jackie_mejialJacqueline Mejia, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher
Jackie’s CV

I am interested in combining geochemical observations and molecular biology tools to investigate the fate of nutrients and contaminants in natural and engineered environments. I find that integrating omic technologies such as genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics, is crucial for enhancing our understanding of metabolic pathways that drive biogeochemical processes. When I’m not doing research, I enjoy working on my startup Pathogenomica, spending time with friends and family, dancing, doing all sorts of artsy stuff, hiking and traveling (specially to Colombia where my family is from).

Tingying_XuTingying Xu, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher
Tingying’s CV

My research interest is to investigate geochemical processes that control
mineral transformation and the fate of trace elements, nutrients, and contaminants in aquatic environments. These processes are controlled by chemical interactions between aqueous solutions and minerals, organic matter, and microorganisms. I specifically study how metal (or metalloid) interacts with mineral surfaces in both abiotic and biotic systems. My current work focuses on fungal manganese oxides interactions with metal, with the goal of understanding how fungi affect manganese oxides structure and metal speciation and uptake. To accomplish these goals, I apply laboratory-based analytical, microscopy, and culture-based tools, synchrotron-based X-ray spectroscopic and scattering methods. the lab, I enjoy biking, baking, hiking, and anything else that gets me outside.

josh_pic_cropJoshua Torgeson, Ph.D. student
Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota

Josh is a 2nd year PhD student in the UMN Department of Earth Sciences. He received his bachelor’s degree in Earth Sciences from Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2016 where he studied iron carbonate mineralization in ferruginous systems and glacial till geochemistry. Currently he is interested in the geobiochemical cycling of iron and sulfur in wetland systems – primarily the role of the cryptic sulfur cycle. Outside the lab, Josh enjoys tinkering with his 3D printer, cooking, and dogs.

Mary_crop.jpgMary Sabuda, Ph.D. student
Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota

Mary is a Ph.D. student candidate in the UMN Department of Earth Sciences studying Geomicrobiology. She is interested in using genomics and geochemical approaches to understand how microbes can be used to effectively remediate contaminants of concern, specifically inorganic pollutants, in engineered and natural settings. She is researching fungal selenium transformations by fungi.


Chris_SchulerChris Schuler, Ph.D. student
Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota

I am a first-year PhD student in the Earth Science department at the University of Minnesota. Originally from Maryland, I spent my undergraduate years in Pittsburgh, PA before moving to Minneapolis. I am interested in the intersections between geochemistry and microbiology, and my research focuses on characterizing the chemical and mineral components of the deep biosphere in the Soudan mines.

Riley_SchmitterRiley Schmitter, Undergraduate Researcher
College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota

I’m currently an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota studying Earth Science. I grew up in Cedarburg, WI, just outside of Milwaukee, and have always been deeply interested in science and nature. More recently, I’ve been interested in conservation and environmental justice, and how science can best support that. As a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, I’m thrilled to be able to participate in the Grand Challenges Wild Rice project. Outside of the lab, I enjoy film and photography, baking, being outdoors, and (badly) playing guitar.

Brayden_KuesterBrayden Kuester, Undergrad Researcher
College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesot

Brayden undergraduate student in the College of Science and Engineering majoring in Earth Sciences. Currently, he is working on the impact of nutrient conditions on fungal reduction of selenium for potential bioremediation applications. Outside the lab, Brayden enjoys running, fishing, playing soccer, and spending time with family.



Kelly Duhn – Research Technician, UMN


Elizabeth Roepke – M.S. student, UMN


Elizabeth MacDonald – UMN Undergraduate researcher, B.S. Microbiology, UROP and LSURP


Christine Hitomi – UMN Undergraduate researcher, Senior Honors Thesis (Chemistry


Max Loy – Undergraduate researcher, Majoring in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior


Elizabeth Carlson – Undergrad researcher, B.S. Environmental Science, Policy and Management


Margaret Anne Hinkle – Postdoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Institution


Dominique Chaput, Ph.D.Postdoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Institution


Jing Zhang, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian


Lexy Fowler – Research Technician


Onyou Seo – Undergraduate Intern


Brandi Cron – Visiting Graduate Intern

Ryan Nell

Ryan Nell – Undergraduate Intern


Alison Post – NHRE Undergraduate


Gabriela Farfan – Undergraduate Intern


Tyler Imfeld – NHRE Undergraduate