I am a Professor in the Departments of Earth and Planetary Science and Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (see contact information below). I also have an appointment in the geochemistry group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. My primary research interests are in geomicrobiology and environmental microbiology. My group studies how microorganisms shape, and are shaped by, their natural environments. My research group studies microbial communities, primarily using cultivation-independent approaches such as genomics (metagenomics) and community proteomics. We work on microbial dissolution and precipitation of minerals, the structure, properties, and reactivity of nanoparticles (many of which are formed by microorganisms), microbial ecology, and microbial evolution. Virtually all of our projects are tied to a field site. Current locations of study are Iron Mountain (northern California), the Angelo Reserve (northern California), the Rifle and East River sites, Colorado, Crystal Geyser, Utah
In the News
Researchers at UC Berkeley, who have discovered more than 1,000 new types of bacteria and Archaea over the past 15 years lurking in Earth’s nooks and crannies, have dramatically rejiggered the tree to account for these microscopic new life forms.
Jill Banfield, professor of EPS and ESPM, and grad student Christopher Brown discovered a large number of new groups or phyla of bacteria, suggesting that the branches on the tree of life need some rearranging. The more than 35 new phyla equal in number all the plant and animal phyla combined.
Scientists have captured the first detailed microscopy images of ultra-small bacteria that are believed to be about as small as life can get. The research was led by scientists from Berkeley Laboratory and UC Berkeley.
University of California, Berkeley, scientists will receive $4,900,000 over the next five years to study the nearly 10,000 square kilometer Eel River watershed in Northern California and how its vegetation, geology and topography affect water flow all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
New Berkeley Lab Subsurface SFA 2.0 Project Explores Uncharted Environmental Frontier of Subsurface Ecogenomics
The key to a better understanding of the carbon cycle, the flow of contaminants, even the sustainable growth of biofuel crops, starts with the ground beneath your feet. More specifically, it starts with the genomes of the microbes that live in the water and sediment beneath your feet.
UC Berkeley scientists have dug into the soil of a heavy metal contaminated site to analyze the genes of the underground microbial community in hopes of finding ways to help improve the microbes’ ability to remediate toxic metal contamination.
But her work is vast in its scope and impact. So vast, in fact, that her discoveries have implications for space, the human body, and nearly everything in between.
UC Berkeley’s Jillian Banfield was named the 2011 North American Laureate at the 13th Annual L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards ceremony in Paris on March 3, which included the screening of a video interview with Banfield discussing her research and philosophy of science.
UC Berkeley scientist Jill Banfield, with colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh and Stanford University, have for the first time sequenced and reconstructed the genomes of most of the microbes in the gut of a premature newborn and documented how the microbe populations changed over time. Banfield and pediatric surgeon Michael Morowitz hope that characterizing gut microbes of normal and sick infants could lead to cause of necrotizing enterocolitis in preemies.
Jillian Banfield, a biogeochemist and geomicrobiologist, will receive two prestigious awards – the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth and Environmental Science and the L-Oréal-UNESCO "For Women in Science" award – for her groundbreaking work on how microbes alter rocks and interact with the natural world.
For nearly a decade, Jillian Banfield and her UC Berkeley colleagues have been studying the microbe community that lives in one of the most acidic environments on Earth: the drainage from a former copper mine in Northern California. One group of these microbes seems to be smaller, and weirder, than any other known, free-living organism.