Christopher W. Schadt is a Senior Staff Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the Biosciences Division and also holds an appointment as Joint Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in the Department of Microbiology and the Genome Science and Technology Graduate Program. Chris is an environmental microbiologist with expertise in the influence of microorganisms on biogeochemical cycles in soils and sediments, plant-microbe interactions, as well as the development of molecular methodologies to track microbial communities, functions and activities in various environment. Dr. Schadt received his Ph.D in 2002 at the University of Colorado, Boulder in the lab of Steven K. Schmidt

Current Lab Members:

Visiting Scientist
Cyd Hamilton is an ORISE Fellow interested in Plant-Microbe interactions, technology development and application, as well as the intersections of science and policy. She has joined us on a two year appointment coming from the EERE Office of DOE where she was a AAAS fellow. She will be leading a project to explore plant fungal interactions between Populus and a newly discovered group of fungi related to Atractiella that forms relationships as a root endophyte with Populus under diverse conditions and environments.

Postdoctoral Associates
Melissa Cregger (Homepage at
Melissa is a microbial ecologist broadly interested in understanding what factors structure microbial communities, and how disturbance alters these communities and their function across a wide variety of ecosystems. She is working primarily on aspects of Plant Microbe Interactions in Populus as part of our PMI project at ORNL. Melissa completed her PhD at the University of Tennessee in 2012, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois before come back to East Tennessee and ORNL

Laurel Kluber (blog on weebly)
Laurel’s research combines the fields of soil science, microbiology, and ecology to address and understand ecosystem level processes in natural and managed landscapes. Her research aims to elucidate how soil microbes interact with each other, the soil matrix, plants, and the ecosystem as a whole.  She works with myself and Melanie Mayes at ORNL on the SPRUCE project and a project on soil carbon cycle biogeochemistry & modeling.

Grad Students:
Steve Higgins is a graduate student at the University of Tennessee in the Department of Microbiology and a 2014 SCGSR fellow working in our lab at ORNL. He is interested in fungal roles in soil denitrification processes.

Jessica Velez has been working with us since June 2014 developing SSR markers for Atractiella and looking at interactions with other rhizosphere fungi. Jessica has now started Ph.D. program in fall 2015 with Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education and is interested in plant-microbe-metal interactions.

Zamin Yang, MSc
Zamin is a senior technician in our group at ORNL working on all tasks involving molecular ecology and biology!

Samantha Thompkins
Samantha has been working with us since June 2015 on soil carbon cycling and the SPRUCE projects.

Past Lab Members and Associates:
Mike Robeson (aka Bdelloid)(Postdoctoral Associate, Colorado State University and USFWS)
Tarah Sullivan-Guest (aka Microbial Modus)(Assistant Professor, Washington State University)
Jessica (Meg) Steinweg (Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Baraboo)
Hector Castro (Research Associate, University of Tennessee)
Amudhan Venkateswaran (Senior Scientist, Dow AgroSciences)
Marie Anne DeGraaff (Assistant Professor, Boise State University)
Gengxin Zhang (Assistant Professor, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Thomas Gihring (Independent Consultant, Gainesville, FL)

Grad Students/ Postbachelors / Interns:
Migun Shakya (aka Microbeatic)(Postdoctoral Associate, Dartmouth University)
Emily Austin (Postdoctoral Associate, University of New Hampshire)
Jennifer Reeve (Associate Professor, Utah State University)
Emily Hollister (Assistant Professor, Baylor College of Medicine)
Sean Berthrong (Assistant Professor, Butler University)
Neil Gottel (Research Associate, Argonne National Laboratory)
Stacey Travis (Stormwater Inspector, Catoosa County & Instructor, Chattanooga State Community College)
Miranda Crouch (Graduate Student, East Carolina University)
Nicholas Hendershot (Graduate Student, Stanford University)

Marilyn Kerley (happily retired!)

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