EPSCoR - Montana NSF

Kara DeLeon
Kara DeLeon text_container

Graduate Student

Kara DeLeon student in the Department of Microbiology at Montana State University. Kara conducts her graduate research in MSU’s Center for Biofilm Engineering with Professor Matthew Fields. Kara’s primary research focus is in microbial community analysis using pyrosequencing, a new and high-throughput DNA sequencing method, to better understand the microbial diversity at a site. She is currently studying two sites: The first is a chromium contaminated site at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Hanford, WA, where she and colleagues are stimulating the microbes to reduce chromium to an insoluble form. She takes both groundwater and surrogate soil samples to better understand both the biofilm and planktonic microbial communities and how they change across time and space during stimulation. The second research site is in the Heart Lake Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park. There, Kara studies three alkaline hot springs that are along a thermal gradient. Little is known about the microbial communities in this area of the park because it is in such a remote area. This site allows Kara to analyze how the communities change from year-to-year as well as how slight changes in temperature alter the community.

Her work allows Kara to be in the field and in the lab, both important aspects of research that Kara enjoys. After graduate school, Kara plans to stay in academia, perhaps as a professor where she can teach and mentor undergraduate students in research.