Caitlin M. Gionfriddo, Ph.D.

I am an environmental microbiologist and biogeochemist who studies how microbes control the form and fate of toxic metals in the environment. I utilize molecular and meta-omic techniques with chemical assays to link microbial genetics to ecosystem health. Currently, I am leading research focused on the microbial genetics of mercury methylation. Methylmercury is a highly toxic organic form of mercury that accumulates in the food web, posing a threat to human and ecosystem health. I am interested in understanding why microbes produce this more toxic form of mercury and how we may limit its production in the environment.

I received my Ph.D. in 2017 from the University of Melbourne (Australia) with a focus in microbial ecology, genomics, and environmental chemistry. From 2017 to 2020, I was a postdoctoral research associate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory exploring the biochemical mechanism of mercury methylation. In 2020, I received a two year fellowship to conduct research at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center as a Robert and Arlene Kogod Secretary Scholar in the Trace Metals and Microbial Ecology group. Currently, I am a research fellow in the Centre for Freshwater Ecosystems at La Trobe University, where my work addresses critical issues in water quality and environmental stewardship of the Murray-Darling Basin.

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