Jody W. Deming

University of Washington


Primary Section: 27, Evolutionary Biology
Secondary Section: 63, Environmental Sciences and Ecology
Membership Type: Member (elected 2003)

Biosketch

Jody Deming holds the Karl M. Banse Professorship in the School of Oceanography at the University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Deming is a marine microbiologist recognized for her work on microbial life in extreme oceanic environments, from the deep sea to polar regions. She is known for her studies on microbial strategies for adapting and thriving in the cold, including the role of lytic and lysogenic viruses, particularly in subzero hypersaline ice formations, with implications for biogeochemical cycling in polar waters impacted by sea ice. Dr. Deming was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1974 with a degree in the biological sciences, and worked for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center until earning a PhD in microbiology from the University of Maryland in 1981. She held postdoctoral fellowships at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the NOAA Office for Marine Pollution and Assessment, followed by a research scientist position at the Chesapeake Bay Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and part-time professorship in the Biology Department on the main campus in Baltimore. She joined the faculty at the University of Washington in 1988, where she has directed the Marine Bioremediation Program and the Future of Ice Initiative, and was a founding member of the UW Astrobiology dual PhD Program (1998-present). She is Editor-in-Chief of the non-profit, open-access journal Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene and a member of the American Academy of Microbiology and the National Academy of Sciences. 

Research Interests

Jody Deming's laboratory focuses on the bacteria, archaea and viruses in the subzero brines within polar sea ice and the ancient marine sediments buried deep in permafrost. They have examined extracellular strategies for surviving these extreme conditions, in particular using cell coatings  and cell-free releases of polysaccharide substances to serve as antifreeze and osmoprotectants.  The role of viruses has been a particular focus, both in mediating gene transfers relevant to these strategies and in providing lysates of consortial benefit under highly constrained physical conditions. To understand evolutionary processes under extreme conditions, various experimental and genomic approaches have been applied to samples recovered from their frozen environments during Arctic icebreaking and land-to-ice expeditions. Robust microbial ecosystems  thrive under surprisingly extreme conditions by virtue of manifold unique adaptations.

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