Karen Junge

Karen JungeCurrently, Karen Junge’s research interests lie at the interface of the biosphere and geosphere where she explores bacterial life at extremely low temperatures in ice. She is motivated by research questions that center around how polar psychrophilic (cold-loving) bacteria adapt to life in ice and how they interact with and impact their physical and chemical environment, questions that currently comprise a very active research field. To this end, she develops and uses molecular biology, microbiology, geophysics and atmospheric science techniques. She is also interested in the genomic makeup of these organisms and molecular adaptations to the cold life style and how physiology, diversity and ecology of psychrophilic bacteria change when confronted with the extreme cold. She is driven to develop ways to analyze microbial communities under in-situ conditions with minimal disturbance of their natural environment.

Karen Junge heads the Polar Microbiology group within the Polar Science Center.

Selected Projects

  • Geomicrobiology

    Greenland Meltwater Geomicrobiology

    This project characterizes the Greenland Ice Sheet’s subglacial microbial communities to investigate the effect of microbes on lithospheric weathering and nutrient fluxes from the GrIS margin in West Greenland.

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    Metabolic Activities and Gene Expression of Marine Psychrophiles in Cold Ice

    This project will explore the relationship between deep-freeze bacterial activity, proteomics, polymers and the physical state of the ice and will provide important keys to questions regarding life under extreme conditions, be it in the various ice formations here on Earth, the atmosphere or elsewhere in the universe.

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    Life elsewhere in the Universe: Astrobiology

    PI: Karen Junge
    Ice is ubiquitous in the Universe. If we better understand how microbial life adapts to Earth ice matrices, we will be in a better position to evaluate and plan tests of the habitability of frozen systems elsewhere in the Universe.

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Selected Publications