PIRE News

Tengchong PIRE

Overview

The Tengchong PIRE project aims to work toward a holistic and global view of geobiology in geothermal systems by studying the largest geothermal area in China within the context of similar research in other geothermal systems such as Yellowstone National Park. The project is a collaborative effort involving eight US universities and six Chinese universities (see Universities below). The project is funded by a 5-year grant from the NSF Partnerships in International Research and Education (PIRE) program with co-funding from the Biology and Geosciences Directorates.

Science

The study of high temperature ecosystems (>73°C) is a frontier in biology because temperature alters the ecology of these systems in ways that are profoundly important but poorly understood. We are limited by our poor understanding of the cycling of two of the most important biological elements, carbon (C) and nitrogen (N), and our complete ignorance of the functions of abundant microorganisms that have never been cultivated in the laboratory. Our team employs a broad repertoire of approaches in geochemistry, microbial cultivation and physiology, microbial community activity measurements, and genomics. By carefully coordinating our research and integrating datasets, we hope to make major advancements in our understanding of life at high temperature. Read More

Education

The research will be fully integrated with an education and training program designed to increase cultural awareness and stimulate long-lasting collaboration between US and Chinese scientists. To do this, we have partnered with the UNLV REU in Environmental Microbiology to provide 10-week summer opportunities for US undergraduates in China, summer and semester-long field and lab research experiences for US graduate students in China, and four-week field research opportunities for high-school science teachers in China. Each opportunity offers both scientific and cultural experiences designed to reach our educational goals.