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Eukaryotic Microbiology Comparative Biology Field Research Model Organism Development


Finding and characterizing new protist species is insightful for biology yet it is often ignored. As such, the number of predicted protist species far outweigh those that are characterized, primarily because it is difficult to capture and culture free-living cells. I am working on a system to make capturing and culturing novel protists easier.

If you don’t know what protists are, you are missing out. Seriously. I am designing a database for beginners at protist.info. Please do yourself a favor and learn about life far more interesting and diverse than plants, fungi, and animals combined. View the figure below and look up some the groups:


Protists are microbial eukaryotes. Any eukaryote that is not a plant, animal, or fungus. Far more life exist than what you normally see. The first living cells were relatively simplistic. A small group of these cells evolved into the eukaryotic lineage, single cells that are huge and tend to organize complex processes into specialized compartments. Eukaryotic cells are also known for eating smaller living cells, but instead of killing them, they enslave them. Some single celled protists eventually evolved into giant multicellular organisms you know as plants and animals.

[What Protists Are Not]
[Protists Are Microbes Too]
In recent years microbes have received much deserved attention. This revealed the extreme diversity of bacteria and their role both in the environment and inside other organisms. Protists seemed to gather less attention and it is surprising the lack of researchers in protistology, as it is a field rich in the prospect of discovery. I believe this stems largely from the lack of proper education about eukaryotes. In biology, most classes are mammal-centric, as this is what medical research focuses on. But protists play major roles in aquatic and terrestrial environments as well as the human microbiome. They range from parasitic and commensal relationships to free-living drivers of nutrient cycles and stabilizers of the biosphere. Protists are the most understudied yet most phylogenetically diverse eukaryotic life on the planet.

A major threat to increasing the resolution of life's history is extinction; it saddens me to think what is forever lost to our knowledge. This risk is higher with invertebrates and microbes, which usually don’t leave a footprint to study (unless you are a testate amoeba). With extinction events rapidly accelerating, it harrows me to think that there is undiscovered life out there holding interesting developments for biologists everywhere. Out of fear for losing evidence, I prioritize discovery, characterization, and development of novel model organisms to be used for experimentation.

[Specific Interests]
[Previous Research]