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Profile Detail

Laura G. Leff

Professor and Acting Chair

  • Ph.D, University of Georgia
Courses Taught

  • Career Pathways
  • Life on Planet Earth 
Research Interests

My research focuses on microbial ecology of aquatic ecosystems with emphasis on bacterial ecology of streams. Present projects in my laboratory include: Our lab focuses on examining responses of microorganisms to their environment. Examples of recent projects in the lab include: 

  •  Connecting microbial community structure and function
  • Microbial communities of acid mine impacted streams and changes in the community associated with remediation
  • Effects of dissolved organic matter on denitrification in agricultural streams
  • Leaf decomposition in wetlands, streams and terrestrial systems
  • Response of bacteria to nutrients and carbon

In each project, we use a variety of molecular biology techniques and microscopy to examine properties such as bacterial and fungal community structure, gene expression, diversity of denitrification genes, etc.  We seek to integrate the fields of microbiology and ecology.

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Current and past funding from NSF, NASA, EPA, and other agencies/foundations

Editor, Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2001-2011)

Editorial Boards, Applied and Environmental Microbiology (1997-1999, 1999-2001), Microbial Ecology (2001-present), The International Society of Microbial Ecology Journal (2006-present)

PI on NSF IGERT grant, IGERT website

recent publications include:

  1. Ghosh, S. and L. G. Leff. Impacts of labile organic carbon concentration on organic and inorganic nitrogen utilization by a stream biofilm bacterial community, Accepted, Applied and Environmental Microbiology
  2. Leff, L.G., D, L. Bade, J. Scaffidi, C. E. Williamson, and C. Woolverton. 2013. Environmental Aquatic Resource Sensing: Basic Sciences, Business Education, and Outreach Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education, 150: 63-69.
  3. Baxter, A., Johnston L, Royer, TV, and L. G. Leff. 2013. Spatial differences in denitrification and bacterial community structure of streams: relationships with environmental conditions. Aquatic Sciences. 75:275-284.
  4. Ghosh, S. M. Moitra, C. Woolverton and L. G. Leff. 2012.  Effects of remediation on the bacterial community of an acid mine drainage impacted stream. Canadian Journal of Microbiology 58: 1316–1326
  5. Johnson, L. T. Royer, J. Edgerton and L. G. Leff. 2012. Manipulation of the dissolved organic carbon pool in an agricultural stream: responses in microbial community structure, denitrification, and assimilatory nitrogen uptake.  Ecosystems, 15: 1027-1038.
  6. Kennedy, E., L. G. Leff and F. deSzalay. 2012 Effects of herbiciding on Phragmites australis decomposition. Fundamental and Applied Limnology, 180:309-319.
  7. Vukanti, R. and L. G. Leff. 2012.  Expression of multiple stress response genes by Escherichia coli under modeled reduced gravity. Microgravity Science and Technology, 24: 267-279, DOI: 10.1007/s12217-012-9310-0
  8. Baxter, A, Johnston L, Edgerton J, Royer TV, and L. G. Leff. 2012. Structure and function of denitrifying bacterial assemblages in low order Indiana streams. Freshwater Science, 31:304-317.
  9. Vukanti, R, M. Model, and L. G. Leff. 2012. Effect of modeled reduced gravity conditions on bacterial morphology and physiology. BMC Microbiology 12:4 doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-4
  10. Antibus, D., L. G. Leff, B. L. Hall, J. Baseman, and C. Blackwood. 2012. Cultivable Bacteria from Ancient Algal Mats from the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Extremophiles, 16:105-114.
Research Areas
  • aquatic ecology
  • microbial ecology
  • American Society for Microbiology
  • International Society for Microbial Ecology
  • Ecological Society of America
  • Society for Freshwater Science
Laura G. Leff
Department of Biological Sciences
Center for Ecology and Natural Resources Sustainability
052 Cunningham Hall
Phone: 330-672-3788
Fax: 330-672-3713