Patricia and her husband Mark share a passion for the study of bacteria. They are a unique research couple dedicated to the study of zany extremophiles. They met in the early 1990s as graduate students at the Ivy League's famed Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. He was examining how microbes break down pollutants and she was probing the interactions between bacteria and metals in wetlands.
"It was love in the lab!" Patricia says with a grin.
HSU undergrads and graduate students take part in the couple's research of the abundance of microscopic organisms in Lassen's hot pools and boiling lakes. The teams deploy a remote-controlled boat to collect samples in different parts of the scalding water.
Patricia is devoted to getting students personally involved. "I teach most of my own lab sections and I get to know my students individually as they progress through their careers at HSU and after."
She adds: "Like most of the faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences, I actively engage students in all aspects of my research. I feel privileged to participate in students' journeys in science."
The Humboldt Extreme Acidophile Team (HEAT) has been exploring Lassen since 1999 and Patricia and Mark, joined by their HSU students, are expanding our understanding of the extraordinary role extremophiles play in the planet's life — and quite possibly the mysterious life hidden on planets beyond.