Cave Microbiology Lab

Kindly drawn by Katryna Barone in 2018

Our research interests include cave microbiology and drug discovery, white-nose syndrome in bats, antibiotic resistance, and microbiology education.  Our research has primarily centered on microbial diversity, microbial secondary metabolites production, and searching for potential natural products and bioactive compounds.  Research questions that our laboratory is addressing have focused on whether new drugs with the different mode of actions and with new scaffolds can be found in rare/less-intensive-studied microorganisms living in extreme habitats (i.e., in caves)?  Besides drug discovery aspect of our research, other research questions include cave bacterial diversity, adaptation, relationship, and evolution.  In the long run, we would like to be able to connect the dots in cave microbial study, how the microorganisms survive in such hypogenic and dark environments for years and what traits they need to have to thrive in such habitats. How about the relationships amongst other species in the same habitats? And can we use all the information gathered to answer its evolutionary patterns?  Recently, our lab has been working on developing probiotics to help prevent bats from white-nose syndrome.

Recent Research Grants

2020 -2021  With Drs. Carol Rees  (Lead PI), Michelle Harrison and partnering with the School District #73, we have been successfully awarded with the 2020-2021 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Engage Grants Covid-19 Special Initiative 1C Research project entitled “Supporting curiosity-driven inquiry-based science education online through a community-of-inquiry partnership: rethinking pedagogical approaches during the Covid-19 pandemic”

Recent Awards

2020     Nominated and recognized as one of the TRU Influencers in celebration of TRU’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

2020 D2L Innovative Teaching and Learning Award (Funded and awarded by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) and D2L for outstanding post-secondary educators)

2020 TRU Faculty Excellence Award (TRU recognizes up to three faculty members who represent the best qualities of instruction and/or instructional support)

Recent News

1) TRU write-up on D2L Innovative Teaching Award 

2)Our bat research was mentioned in the article called “Can Bats Be Saved” by Kerry Banks published in the Canadian Wildlife Magazine issue March and April 2020.CW MarApr 2020 Can Bats Be Saved

3) April 9, 2020: interviewed for the CBC Radio’s North By Northwest hosted by Sheryl MacKay for a new series on her show, profiling scientists from around the province. https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-43-north-by-northwest/clip/7092140-sunday-april-26

Recent Publications

  1. *Lal, A. and Cheeptham, N. (2020) Factors Affecting Learning Gains among Students in Microbiology Class: A Preliminary Study between a U.S. Community College and a Canadian Comprehensive University. Fine Focus. https://openjournals.bsu.edu/finefocus/article/view/3318/1919
  2. Insuk, C., Kunchareon, N., Cheeptham, N., Tanasupawat, S., and Pathom-aree, W. (2020) Bryophytes Harbor Cultivable Actinobacteria with Plant Growth Promoting Potential. Frontiers in Microbiology (Accepted and In press).
  3. Stefano Mammola*, Isabel R. Amorim, Maria E. Bichuette, Paulo Borges, Naowarat Cheeptham, Steven J.B. Cooper, David C. Culver, Louis Deharveng, David Eme, Rodrigo Lopes Ferreira, Cene Fišer, Žiga Fišer, Daniel W. Fong, Christian Griebler, William R. Jeffery, Johanna E. Kowalko, Jure Jugovic, Thomas M Lilley, Florian Malard, Raoul Manenti, Alejandro Martínez, Melissa B. Meierhofer, Diana E. Northup, Thais G. Pellegrini, Meredith Protas, Matthew Niemiller, Ana Sofia Reboleira, Tanja Pipan, Michael P. Venarsky, J. Judson Wynne, Maja Zagmajster, Pedro Cardoso (2020) Fundamental research questions in subterranean biology. Biological Review.  https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/brv.12642