B.A., Williams College ; Ph.D., Stanford University
Science Rm S353
Steven BillerAssistant Professor of Biological Sciences
Studying marine microbes, from the genomic to ecosystem level.
My research investigates the systems biology of microbes living within complex communities. I use model systems to decipher the genetic and cellular mechanisms through which individual cells interact with other organisms and their environment, and explore how these interactions ultimately contribute to emergent community behaviors. I am particularly interested in the oceans, and much of my current work centers around the marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus—the smallest and most abundant photosynthetic organism on the planet. My lab explores diverse aspects of this microbe through a combination of laboratory, computational, and field studies. Some current areas of interest include investigating the ecological roles of extracellular vesicles, the impact of co-culture interactions on microbial physiology, and the forces that shape the function, biogeography, and evolution of these organisms in the global oceans. To address these types of cross-scale questions, my group integrates approaches from genomics and computational biology, ecology, cell biology, microbial physiology, systems biology, and oceanography.
I teach across the Biology curriculum, including Introductory Cellular and Molecular Biology (BISC 110), co-teaching Genetics (BISC/BIOC 219), and a course in Genomics and Bioinformatics. In my teaching, I try to convey my fascination with complexity of the natural world and the importance of thinking about questions in Biology from a combination of molecular, ecological, and evolutionary perspectives. I hope students walk away from my classes both with both new knowledge about topics in biology as well as an appreciation for all that is yet to be discovered.
In addition to my own teaching and research, I am interested in the development of genomic database resources and educating the public about the importance of the oceans to our planet. I have also been involved in teaching a graduate-level summer microbiology course in CA.
Outside of the lab, I enjoy running around with my kids, exploring the outdoors, woodworking, reading, listening to music, baseball, and playing guitar (extremely poorly).