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Idaho 2011

photo of Tim Magnuson

Tim Magnuson
Microbiologist and Associate Professor in the
Department of Biological Sciences
Idaho State University
Spaceward Bound Expedition Idaho 2011

Who I am
Who I am I am a Microbiologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho. My academic duties include teaching in the Biology and Microbiology curricula, and conducting research on the physiology and biochemistry of bacteria that inhabit 'extreme' environments..

My Background and Career Path
I receieved my Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry, and conducted undergraduate research at the University of Minnesota. After working in industry and university research for 2 years, I returned to graduate studies at the University of Idaho, where I earned both an MS and PhD in Bacteriology under the guidance of Professor Don Crawford. My graduate research focused on biomass conversion to biofuels, specifically how bacteria break down plant matter into fermentable sugars, which then give rise to ethanol. After graduate work, I took a Postdoctoral Associate position with Dr. Derek Lovley at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. There, I took a quite a turn in research focus, studying the electron transport system in iron-respiring anaerobic bacteria. These organisms literally 'breath' on rocks, by using iron oxide minerals as an electron acceptor for respiration. This position led to a Research Faculty appointment at Montana State University, under the guidance of Dr. Gill Geesey. My work at MSU focused on biofilm formation in iron-respiring bacteria, a new frontier in microbial physiology research. In 2001, I began a tenure-track appointment at Idaho State University, where I have been ever since. I have trained a number of graduate and undergraduate students during this time, and have developed a successful research portfolio.

My Research Interests
My research interests are diverse, encompassing microbial physiology, biochemistry, and ecology. My research group studies thermophilic and acidophilc microorganisms, and how they survive and even thrive in seemingly inhospitable places such as hot springs and acid mine drainage. We also investigate how these organisms could be helpful to humankind through bioenergy production and clean-up of hazardous metals.

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Editor: Linda Conrad
NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated: June 2011