Address

106 Central St, Wellesley, 02481, USA

Contact

vklepacc @ wellesley.edu

781-283-3541

Follow

©2018 by VKC Lab

Projects

Our research projects examine microbial communities related to
HUMAN HEALTH and NUTRIENT CYCLING

Microbes and Human Health

ECHO Project

We are investigating the effects of environmental factors on childhood cognitive development, by exploring the relationship between the gut microbiome and the brain.  With this project, we will address: 1. How brain growth is disrupted in response to specific environmental and genetic factors; 2. How patterns of early brain growth are associated with, and predictive of, the gut microbiome; and 3. How the immense variety of generic and environmental exposures we experience at each life stage, from prenatal to adolescence, shapes the gut microbiome and in turn, brain-cognition/behavior relationships.  This project is support by the National Institute of Health's (NIH's) Environmental influence on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) grant and performed in partnership with a number of collaborators.

Oral Microbial Ecology

Our lab has worked on several projects with the Forsyth Institute, resulting in authorship on a number of publications characterizing microbial communities associated with oral health. 

 

Microbe-Microbe Interactions in Nutrient Cycling

IMG_2284.jpg

Microbial nutrient cycling

in Green Lake

Microorganisms drive many biogeochemical cycles in redox-stratified environments. We aim to characterize microorganisms involved in the degradation of complex organic matter and how these microorganisms contribute to the cycling of nutrients such as carbon, sulfur, and manganese in a permanently-stratified lake, like Green Lake.

The impact of climate change on microbial communities in permafrost

With an interdisciplinary team of scientists from the United States, Sweden, and Australia, we are studying how changes in microbial communities as permafrost thaws affect carbon cycling, particularly greenhouse gases.  This work is in collaboration with Professor Virginia Rich's lab at Ohio State University.

IMG_9159.jpg

Analyzing the biochemical transformation of bokashi fertilizer

As an extension of member Nisreen Abo-Sido's thesis project analyzing the biogeochemical transformation of bokashi, a traditional fertilizer made from waste material, we are categorizing the bacterial and fungal communities that both aerobically and anaerobically convert the starting material into a nutrient-rich fertilizer.

The role of microbes in modern ooid formation

Ooids are small, spherical, carbonate grains that are commonly found in the geological record.  We are investigating the role of microbial communities in forming and shaping ooids, as controversy remains over the process that govern ooid formation.

stele.jpg

Biological deterioration of a sandstone sculpture

To aid in preserving an ancient Buddhist sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), we are examining the mosses, lichen, fungi, and photosynthesizing bacteria growing on the surface of the stele.  The microbial growth has caused erosion and disfiguration of the stele and, in collaboration with the MFA, we are assessing how best to prevent further damage.

 

Anaerobic manganese oxidation

Microbial manganese oxidation has not been characterized in the absence of molecular oxygen and reactive oxygen species. In collaboration with the Bosak Lab at MIT, we are enriching for microbial communities capable of anaerobically oxidizing manganese in the presence of light in order to study the specifics of this biogeochemical process.