While Trent’s renowned reputation as a leader in environmental education brought Dr. Karen Thompson to the University, learning more about the state-of-the-art facilities and researchers on campus has her excited about what’s to come.
“From previous visits to Trent, I knew it would be a great environment for both teaching and research as a soils scientist,” says Professor Thompson, a new professor in the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program with the Trent School of the Environment.
Prof. Thompson’s research sees her use molecular methods to assess the functional and taxonomic abundance, potential activity, and diversity of soil microbial communities in relation to anthropogenic changes within natural and agricultural systems.
“Microbial communities mediate water quality, greenhouse gas fluxes, plant growth and carbon and nutrient cycling in the soil system,” she says. “They are keystone players in soil health and in the promotion of ecosystem goods and services. However, close to 99 per cent of the estimated trillions of microbes on Earth have not been discovered. My main research interests involve assessing the role of microbial communities in ecosystem functioning and sustainability.”
Prof. Thompson sees the School of the Environment and Trent’s Biology department, both of which “host a variety of impressive researchers,” as being huge players in her research work and its subsequent findings. She adds she sees the Water Quality Centre – “an amazing facility” – also playing an integral role.
Looking to the future and keen to involve Trent students in her research, Prof. Thompson has applied for funding that, if granted, will allow her to make graduate and undergraduate research projects available.