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About Me

  Luke McKay received a B.S. in biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a concentration in molecular biology and minor in chemistry, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in marine sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During this time, his research was focused on microbial ecology in hydrothermal seeps and oil-contaminated sediments and seawater from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Luke also spent time at Palmer Station as a field microbial ecologist studying how the rapidly changing climate along the Western Antarctic Peninsula affects microbial community structure. From 2015 to 2017, Luke was a postdoctoral fellow with the NASA Astrobiology Institute at Montana State University, where he studied novel methane cycling communities in Yellowstone National Park hot springs. 

Recently, he has used a variety of techniques to detect previously unknown methane-cycling archaea and continues to investigate these potential contributors to global carbon and methane fluxes. Luke has expertise using laboratory and computational methods in molecular biology and microbiology—primer design, DNA/RNA extraction and amplification, cultivation, stable isotope probing, phylogenetic tree building, metagenomics, etc—to elucidate connections between microbial identity and physiological function amongst uncharacterized microbial communities in the environment. Luke hopes to continue his research into the unknown microbial diversity involved in methanogenesis and methanotrophy as well as other poorly understood microbial metabolisms that may have major impacts on global biogeochemical cycles.