Brian D. Badgley

Ph.D. Biology, University of South Florida, 2009

M.S. Marine, Estuarine, Environmental Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, 2002

B.S. Zoology, University of Georgia, 1995

2012-Present Assistant Professor, Crop & Soil Environmental Science, Virginia Tech,

2009-2012 Post-Doctoral Associate, BioTechnology Institute, University of Minnesota

2002-2004 Coastal Training Program Coordinator, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

2001-2002 Sea Grant Fellow, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

1996-1997 Environmental Education Instructor, Jekyll Island 4-H Center, Georgia

Link to curriculum vita

Courses Taught

  • ENSC 4984/5984 Bioremediation: This course will offer an overview of environmental biotechnology and the use of microbes and other organisms to remove contaminants and improve environmental quality. Topics will include the treatment of contaminated soils, waters, and wastewaters, as well as remediation of industrial waste streams.

Before arriving at Virginia Tech, I also worked as a designer and facilitator of scientific workshops for environmental professionals at the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, as well as an environmental education instructor for school aged children at the Jekyll Island 4-H center for the University of Georgia.

Undergraduate Research
I believe that research experience in a working laboratory is one of the most important and valuable experiences you can have in your undergraduate career. I am always interested in motivated, enthusiastic, successful students with a mutual interest in environmental microbiology who would like to work in our laboratory. Please feel free to contact me at any time to talk about this possibility.

Program Focus

Research in my lab focuses on environmental microbiology and microbial ecology, with a two particular interests. Firstly, we are interested in elucidating the ecological roles of microbial populations and communities in natural systems.  Microbes mediate many important processes at the ecosystem and global scales, yet approximately 99% of all microbes are not culturable, meaning we know little or nothing about their distribution or role in the environment. Secondly, we are interested in the fate of particular microorganisms in the environment, such as pathogens, water quality indicators, or biodegraders. Even though these organisms may be relatively low in abundance, they are still highly significant, particularly from an applied perspective, and it is important to understand their survival and transport through ecosystems. By combining new methods in genomics and metagenomics with traditional culture based techniques we can seek to gain new insights into these important questions in a variety of habitats. We also strive to conduct highly collaborative and interdisciplinary projects, working with a variety of colleagues from ecosystem ecology, agriculture, chemistry, engineering, and public health.

Current Research

Examples of some of the studies in which we are currently involved include:

  • Patterns in microbial diversity and community structure in a variety of habitats, including reclaimed mine soils, agricultural and forest soils, stream waters and sediments, ballast water in cargo ships, and the surface of mouse skin.
  • The impact of storm events on sediment resuspension and microbial transport in stream ecosystems.
  • The effect of diversity on ecological function in soil microbial communities.

Role of Graduate Students

I strongly feel that graduate school is the time during which an individual should transition from a student to a professional.  In addition to acquiring scientific knowledge and experience in real-world research, this requires that students also develop their writing and presentation skills, as well as the confidence and discipline to interact with colleagues and ultimately follow a project through to completion.  I consider it my role to aid in this transition by providing students with the resources and guidance to conduct cutting-edge and independent research, as well as the opportunity to interact with colleagues at Virginia Tech and in the broader scientific community. I strive to provide students in my lab with the opportunity to conduct microbial ecology in a highly interdisciplinary nature in both the lab and field setting, using a suite of tools that combines modern genomic, metagenomic, and bioinformatic techniques with traditional culture-based approaches as appropriate.  Students are encouraged to be independent and take full ownership of their research from experimental design, all the way through data collection, analysis, and ultimately presentation at professional meetings and publication.

Future Research

Fortunately, increases in sequencing capacity and computing power, coupled with decreases in cost, are allowing us to obtain sequence data for many more samples than was previously possible.  This allows us to sample microbial communities much more intensively, including replicate samples for improved statistical analyses as well as in depth looks into finer scale spatial and temporal variability in microbial community, a topic which previously has been difficult to study. In addition, because we are ultimately interested in coupling microbial diversity with ecological function, future research in my lab will begin to sequence full metagenomes and transcriptomes in environmental samples and investigate environmental patterns among functional genes.

Brian Badgley
  • 540-231-9629
  • RB1880
    Suite 1129, Room 1121
    Blacksburg, Virginia