Cara Santelli (she/her), 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

Tingying_XuTingying Xu (she/her), Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher
Tingying’s CV

Tingying’s research 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. She studies how metal (or metalloid) interacts with mineral surfaces in both abiotic and biotic systems. Her 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, she applies laboratory-based analytical, microscopy, and culture-based tools, synchrotron-based X-ray spectroscopic and scattering methods. Outside the lab, she enjoys biking, baking, hiking, and anything else that gets her outside.

Shreya_Srivastava.jpgShreya Srivastava (she/her), Ph.D.
Postdoctoral researcher

Shreya’s research involves understanding the interaction between microbes and the environment using metagenomic, bioinformatics and microscopic analysis. She have used these techniques to determine how the geochemical conditions of extreme environments with a wide range of temperature and pH conditions, cumulatively affect trace metal bioavailability, the occurrence of metalloproteins proteins and functional pathways. Outside the lab, Shreya enjoys hiking, rock climbing, coffee and travelling.

Mary_crop.jpgMary Sabuda (she/her), Ph.D. candidate
Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota

Mary is a PhD candidate in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at UMN studying geobiology, fungi, and biominerals. Mary’s research focuses on investigating the potential for common soil fungi to clean up contaminants such as selenium (Se) from polluted environments related to mining and other industrial processes. She combines her background in geology with genomics and molecular biology techniques to understand the metabolic pathways involved with fungal Se transformations, in order to optimize any future water treatment strategy. In her free time, she likes to run marathons, hike, and garden.

Chris_SchulerChris Schuler (he/him), Ph.D. student
Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota

Chris is a graduate student in the Earth Science department at the University of Minnesota working on a project focused on the deep biosphere. He is specifically interested in looking into how mineralogy impacts microbial communities in the subsurface; to answer this question, he studies a banded iron formation in northern Minnesota. His research involves the use of synchrotron-based x-ray microprobe techniques, electron microscopy, and lab-based geochemical analyses. When he’s not in the lab, he enjoys hiking, biking, and cooking. ]

Alex WaheedAlex Waheed (he/him), Master’s student
Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota

Alex is a second-year MS student studying geochemistry and hydrology as it pertains to the growth of wild rice (manoomin) in MN and WI. He is part of a larger, collaborative, and tribally-driven project between UMN and community partners in the Great Lakes region. Alex grew up in Chicago, IL and completed his undergraduate degree in geology at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. Following graduation, he spent a year working overseas in Malaysia before beginning at the U. Alex’s 4 favorite things are: running, listening to podcasts, summer, and cooking Pakistani food.

Brayden Kuester Brayden Kuester (he/him), Undergraduate Researcher – 4th year
College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota

Brayden is an undergraduate student, entering his fourth year in the College of Science and Engineering, majoring in Earth Sciences. He has collaborated with a number of other students in the lab on a variety of projects. Currently, he is focused on understanding the relationship between hydrogeology, nutrient availability, and wild rice ecosystem health. Outside of the lab, Brayden enjoys running, fishing, playing soccer, and spending time with family.

Megan Wedal Megan Wedal (she/they), Undergraduate Researcher – 4th year
College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota
Megan is entering the final semester of her undergraduate career in Earth Sciences. Her research focuses on fungal selenium reduction and its potential uses in bioremediation of industrial wastewater. Megan is originally from Milwaukee, WI and grew up exploring both the nearby Driftless Area and the glaciated regions of the Midwest. After graduation, she plans to pursue a graduate degree in Geology or Natural Resource Management in hopes of working with the DNR or Parks service. Outside of the lab, she enjoys running, hiking, baking, kayaking, and spending time with friends and family.

Rachel Tripp Rachel Tripp (she/her), Undergraduate Researcher – 3rd year
College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota
Rachel is a third-year undergraduate student studying Environmental Geosciences, housed in the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences. Rachel has been involved in a number of different projects during her time in the lab. What she loves most about working in the lab is seeing how geochemistry can be used for bioremediation. Outside of lab work, she likes hiking with friends, cooking, and baking!



Ellie Hill – Undergraduate researcher, B.S. Earth Sciences, UMN


Jackie Mejia, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral researcher


Josh Torgeson – Ph.D. student, UMN


Carla Rosenfeld, Ph.D. – NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Research Associate


Riley Schmitter – Undergraduate researcher, B.S. Earth Sciences, UROP, UMN


Kelly Duhn – Research Technician, UMN


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


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


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


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


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