Department of Earth Sciences
Newton Horace Winchell School of Earth Sciences

Cara Santelli


2C PillsH


I will be joining the faculty of the Department of Earth Sciences as an Assistant Professor of Geomicrobiology in Fall 2015.  My research examines the impact of microbial activity on geological processes such as: mineral formation and alteration, metal redox transformations, weathering processes, environmental geochemistry, and remediation of contaminated environments. I utilize multidisciplinary approaches and techniques, ranging from nano-scale geochemical analyses of minerals to metagenomics of microbial communities, to understand molecular mechanisms and environmental ramifications of mineral-microbe reactions.  Recently, I have been examining the role of microorganisms in the remediation of metals in acid mine drainage and other anthropogenically-polluted environments.

I received my B.S. in Geology from the University of Wisconsin and my Ph.D. from the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography.  During my postdoctoral work at Harvard University, I studied the biomineralization of Mn oxide minerals by fungi.  I have continued this research into my current position at the Smithsonian Institution, where I am a research geologist and associate curator of the National Gem and Mineral Collection.  I am a Minnesota native, born and raised on the Iron Range.