What We Do

Planet Microbe arose from the efforts of the EarthCube Oceanography and Geobiology Environmental ‘Omic (ECOGEO) Research Coordination Network, and is a collaborative partnership between Dr. Bonnie Hurwitz at the University of Arizona (Hurwitz Lab), Drs. Edward DeLong and Elisha Wood-Charlson at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. This project interlinks data from Biological and Chemical Oceanography Data Management Office (BCO-DMO), iMicrobe, CyVerse, Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI), Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE), BIOS-SCOPE, GeoLink, SeaView, and other EarthCube projects.

Principal Investigators

Bonnie L. Hurwitz, PhD

Dr. Bonnie Hurwitz is an Assistant Professor of Biosystems Engineering at the University of Arizona and Bio5 Research Institute Fellow. She has worked as a computational biologist for nearly two decades on interdisciplinary projects in both industry and academia. Her research on the human/earth microbiome incorporates large-scale –omics datasets, high-throughput computing, and big data analytics towards research questions in “One Health”. In particular, Dr. Hurwitz is interested in the relationship between the environment, microbial communities, and their hosts. Dr. Hurwitz is well-cited for her work in computational biology in diverse areas from plant genomics to viral metagenomics with over 1700 citations.

 Edward F. DeLong, PhD

Dr. Edward DeLong is a Professor of Oceanography at the University of Hawaii, and a Visiting Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT. DeLong has spent most of his career developing molecular biological and genomic approaches to study naturally occurring microbial communities in the ocean. In the course developing these new approaches DeLong and collaborators have made fundamental discoveries about the nature and properties of microbial life in the sea. Discoveries include the recognition of two new types of abundant marine Archaea in coastal marine habitats, the identification of methane-consuming Archaea in anoxic marine sediments, and characterization of the first known light-driven ion pumps (proteorhodopsins) in marine bacteria. Currently DeLong is applying genomics and systems biology approaches to study microbial community dynamics in the sea, and elucidating the various ways that marine microbes garner energy from sunlight using opsin-based photosystems. DeLong is a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Science, the American Academy of Microbiology, the U. S. National Academy of Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Eurpoean Molecular Biology Association. Honors include the Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky Medal of the European Geosciences Union, the Proctor and Gamble Award in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, the American Society for Microbiology D.C. White Research and Mentoring Award, and the U.C. Davis College of Biological Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award. DeLong has served as co-Director of C-MORE, and he will now serve as SCOPE co-Director with Dr. David Karl. Professor DeLong will serve as President of the International Society for Microbial Ecology from 2018-2020.

Elisha M. Wood-Charlson, PhD

Dr. Elisha Wood-Charlson is the Data/Research Communications Program Manager for the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE) at the University of Hawai’i, Mānoa. She has a PhD in Marine Science and has spent most of her career exploring the role of microbes and viruses in symbiotic marine systems. She was the communications manager for the EarthCube Oceanography and Geobiology Environmental ‘Omics (ECOGEO) Research Coordination Network, the community effort that inspired the creation of Planet Microbe. Elisha is also a fellow in the inaugural AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), which aims to formalize the role of community managers in community-based projects.


Alise Ponsero

Alise Ponsero is a postdoctoral fellow from France. She received her PhD in molecular biology and genetics at the University of Paris-Sud in 2016 and a master’s degree in computer science in 2017 at the University of Rennes I. Her scientific interests are de novo comparative metagenomics, machine learning and statistical methods for multi-omics integration.

Matt Bomhoff

Matt Bomhoff is a full-stack software engineer who has worked at the UofA for over 10 years developing bioinformatics applications and infrastructure for HPC and the web. His professional interests include genomics, web development, and data visualization.

Kai Blumberg

Kai Blumberg is a PhD student in the University of Arizona Biosystems Engineering department. He is working to create a model cyberinfrastructure system called Planet Microbe to integrate and provide analytical tools to analyze key marine omics and biogeochemical datasets. As a contributor to the Environment Ontology (ENVO), Kai works to create high-quality human and machine-readable meta-data in order to make environmental and genomic data findable, accessible interoperable for the next generation of artificial intelligence systems.


NSF EarthCube iMicrobe BCO-DMO