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Miller, Heather

Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics
144 Natural Science
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 884-7967




Heather Miller is a Ph.D. student in the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics department where she is investigating the microbial ecology of extreme environments, specifically actively degassing arc volcanoes.  These systems favor acid-loving, thermophilic autotrophs capable of utilizing deeply sourced outgassed volatiles (e.g., CO2, H2, H2S) to sustain life.  Of particular interest are the geochemical and geological conditions directly influencing the microbial community structure and metabolic functions performed in situ, affording bacteria and archaea to persist billions of years.

As a member of the Schrenk lab, Heather studies both aerobic and anaerobic prokaryotes, either strict or facultative, employing both traditional culturing techniques and metagenomic and metaproteomic approaches. 

Heather is passionate about teaching the next generation of microbiologists, undergraduate students and primary school children alike.  She proactively works with faculty to employ active learning techniques in lab and lecture-based classes, including Introductory Microbiology (MMG301/302) and Advanced Microbiology (MMG408).

During her undergraduate & master’s coursework, Heather studied hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis, sulfate-reduction, and denitrification with particular focus on whether microbes are able to remediate contamination of pristine environments.  She also investigated impacts of intercropping on free-living and symbiotic nitrogen-fixers, which resulted in an award and prestigious opportunity to give the Key-Note speech at the annual undergraduate research conference.


  1. K. M. Fullerton, M. Schrenk, M. Yucel, E. Manini, D. Fattorini, M. di Carlo, F. Regoli, M. Nakagawa, F. Smedile, C. Vetriani, H. Miller, S. Morrison, M. Martinez, J. M. de Moor, P. H. Barry, D. Giovannelli, K. Lloyd. Plate tectonics drive deep biosphere microbial community compositions, in review.
  2. P.H. Barry, J.M. de Moor, D. Giovannelli, M. Schrenk, D.R. Hummer, T. Lopez, C. A. Pratt, Y. Alpízar Segura, A. Battaglia, P. Beaudry, G. Bini, M. Cascante, G. d’Errico, M. di Carlo, D. Fattorini, K. Fullerton, E. Gazel, G. González, S. A. Halldórsson, K. Iacovino, J. T. Kulongoski, E. Manini, M. Martínez, H. Miller, M. Nakagawa, S. Ono, S. Patwardhan, C. J. Ramírez, F. Regoli, F. Smedile, S. Turner, C. Vetriani, M. Yücel, C. J. Ballentine, T. P. Fischer, D. R. Hilton, & K. G. Lloyd. 2019. Forearc carbon sink reduces long-term volatile recycling into the mantle. Nature568(7753), 487.
  3. Stachelek, J., C. Ford, D. Kincaid, K. King, H. Miller, and R. Nagelkirk. 2017. The National Eutrophication Survey: lake characteristics and historical nutrient concentrations. Earth System Science Data Discussions. 1-11. 10.5194/essd-2017-52.
  4. H.A. Miller, J. Fiene, and T.L. Marsh. 2015. Effects of Native American bean-corn associated intercropping system on bacterial abundance and plant biomass measurements with and without Rhizobium inoculation.  American Journal of Undergraduate Research. 12(4):57-71.
  5. H.A. Miller and T.L. Marsh.  2014.  Effects of commercially available glyphosate (Roundup®) on two non-target benthic, freshwater anaerobic bacteria.  Investigations (Elmhurst College). 6(1):50-59.