The McDermott lab is focused on determining the origin of gases and dissolved organics at the Soudan Mine. We work in tandem with the other team members in an effort to define the sources of energy are available to microbial life. Our approach uses microbiology data to frame interesting geochemical hypotheses, and in turn uses geochemistry to identify possible metabolic strategies for microorganisms in the deep biosphere.
Dr. Jill McDermott is an Assistant Professor at Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, PA, where she works in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Dr. McDermott and her lab members collect reducing, saline waters at field sites all around the world, including active hydrothermal systems as well as the deep terrestrial crust. Current marine projects include investigating the chemistry of hydrothermal systems in the Arctic Ocean, the Gulf of California, the Kermandec Arc, at the long-term study site at 9°N East Pacific Rise, west of Mexico. Dr. McDermott also works on determining the physicochemical factors that regulate the stability of environmental DNA in seawater, an emerging tool that holds promise for conducting biodiversity surveys in remote parts of the ocean.
Two Lehigh-based Graduate Students who work on the Soudan project include William ‘Billy’ Dowd and Christopher Keele. For his MS, Billy is investigating the origin of hydrocarbons and the availability of different substrates for methanogenesis. As part of his PhD, Christopher will investigate the intramolecular isotope signatures of propane emitted from the gases emitted from bubbling boreholes at Soudan.