My research focuses on microbial communities as complex adaptive systems that are able to respond to environmental perturbations. Overally communities are resilient, adapting to local conditions, but the function of the community and its structure may change. As community function changes so too are the processes that it catalyzes. I'm particularly interested in the relationship between land use change, microbial community taxonomic and functional composition and carbon and nitrogen cycling.

Postdoctoral research

NSF Postdoctoral Fellow in Biological Informatics
Laboratory of Thomas Schmidt at Michigan State University

My research focused on the ecology of microbial communities in soil and the greenhouse gas fluxes they catalyze. I also developed tools to be used in metagenomic analyses and published a Replicate Filter for removing artifical replicates in 454 data.

- Levine UY, Teal TK, Robertson GP, Schmidt TM. Agriculture's impact on microbial diversity and associated fluxes of methane and carbon dioxide. ISME J. 2011 Oct;5(10):1683-91 (2011)
- Teal TK, Schmidt TM. Identifying and removing artificial replicates from 454 pyrosequencing data Cold Spring Harb Protoc. Apr. 2010. (2010)
- Gomez-Alvarez V*, Teal TK*, Schmidt TM. Systematic artifacts in metagenomes from complex microbial communities. ISME J. 3(11): 1314-17. (2009)

Software developer

I worked as a developer for Textpresso creating new databases and developing tools for database setup and curation.

- Muller H, Rangarajan A, Teal TK and Sternberg PW. Textpresso for Neuroscience: Searching the Full Text of Thousands of Neuroscience Research Papers. Neuroinformatics. 6(3): 195-204. (2008).

Graduate studies

Graduate student in Computation and Neural Systems at California Institute of Technology
in the labs of Dianne Newman and Barbara Wold

I studied the metabolic organization of bacterial biofilms and worked with Shewanella oneidensis strain MR-1. I also developed a program to search for regulatory motifs in bacteria to help determine how redox-active antibiotics controlled expression in divergent bacteria.

Thesis: Studies of the Spatial Organization of Metabolism in Shewanella oneidensis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilms
PhD Thesis, Computation and Neural Systems. California Institute of Technology. (2007)

- Dietrich LEP, Teal TK, Price-Whelan A, Newman DK. Redox-active antibiotics control gene expression and community behavior in divergent bacteria. Science. Vol 321. no. 5893, pp. 1203-1206. (2008)
- Teal TK, Lies DP, Wold BJ, Newman DK. Spatiometabolic stratification in Shewanella oneidensis biofilms. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 72(11):7324-30 (2006).

I also did a project at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the Center for Life Detection with Dr. Ken Nealson characterizing Anaerabranca californiensis with Dr. Alexandre Tsapin and Dr. Vladimir Gorlenko.

- Gorlenko V, Tsapin A, Zorigto N, Teal TK, Tourova T, Engler D, Mielke R, Nealson, K. Anaerobranca californiensis sp. nov., an anaerobic, alkalithermophilic, fermentative bacterium isolated from a hot spring on Mono Lake. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. Vol 54 pp. 739-743 (2004)

Before venturing into work with real bacteria, I worked with Dr. Chris Adami using Avida. This program is a digital simulation of bacterial evolution, and I was trying to determine the error threshold for different populations.

Masters student at UCLA in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
in the lab of Dr. Charles Taylor

My research was in evolution and computational liguistics, studying how the way that people learn language affects its evolution. I developed a computational approach using minimum description length algorithms of formal languages to study how learning via compression affects the evolution of languages.

Thesis: The effects of compression on language acquisition and compression.
Master's Thesis, Department of Organisimic Biology, Ecology and Evolution. University of California, Los Angeles. (1999)

- Teal T., Albro D., Stabler E. and Taylor C.E., Compression and adaptation, In Fifth European Conference on Artificial Life(pp. 709-19). Springer-Verlag. (1999).
- Teal T.K. and Taylor C.E., Effects of compression on language evolution. Artificial Life Vol 6 Num 2 (pp. 129-143). MIT Press. (2000)

While a grad student at UCLA I attended the Santa Fe Institute Complex Systems Summer School and was involved in Artificial Life, particularly the conferences Alife VI and Alife VII.

My BS is in Cybernetics for UCLA where I worked in computer support for Research and Instructional Biocomputing Services.


  Last updated: April 12, 2012
Title photo credit: William R. Hewlett, California Academy of Sciences