Caitlin M. Gionfriddo, Ph.D.

I am an environmental microbiologist who studies how microbes control the fate of toxic metals in the environment. I combine molecular and meta-omic techniques with geochemical analyses to connect microbial mechanisms to biogeochemical processes across spatial and temporal scales. My current research is primarily focused on the environmental drivers of mercury methylation. Methylmercury is a potent neurotoxin that bioaccumulates in aquatic food webs and is primarily produced by microorganisms. I am interested in understanding why microbes produce this more toxic form of mercury.

I received my Ph.D. in 2017 from the University of Melbourne (Australia) in Earth Sciences with a focus in microbial ecology and genomics. From 2017 to 2020, I was a postdoctoral research associate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory exploring the biochemical mechanism of mercury methylation. Currently, I am conducting research at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center as a Secretary’s Scholar in the Trace Metals and Microbial Ecology group.


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