Erin Field

Erin Field

Title: Assistant Professor
Area of Study: Geomicrobiology, Marine Microbial Processes, Microbial Genomics
Phone: (252) 328-5276
Fax: (252) 328-4178
Website: Field Lab Website
Office: S303D Howell Science Complex
Address: East Carolina University
Department of Biology
Howell Science Complex
Mailstop 551
Greenville, NC 27858


Ph.D.: Microbiology, Montana State University, 2011

B.S.: Environmental Science Biology, Southampton College of LIU, 2005

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Research Interests:

Microbes are important drivers of geochemical transformations in the environment, but because their role is complex it remains poorly understood. My research explores the relationship between microbes and their environment in an effort to understand the microbial role in water treatment, contaminant mobility, nutrient transport, and biogeochemical cycling.

While my research interests are diverse, much of my work focuses on microbe-metal interactions including microbial interactions with iron: one of the most abundant metals on Earth. One of my research areas investigates the contribution of iron-oxidizing bacteria to biogeochemical cycling and nutrient transport. Biologically produced iron oxides are highly reactive and can sequester nutrients such as phosphorous, nitrogen, and organic carbon as well as other metals. Unfortunately, there are many unanswered questions about what environmental factors impact this process and how this association influences the microbes themselves. My research focuses largely on marine iron-oxidizing bacteria found in estuaries, coastal regions, and seamounts, but these interactions are also very important in terrestrial and freshwater environments. As environmental microbes are notoriously difficult to cultivate, I am also interested in using –omics-based techniques such as metagenomics and single cell genomics to develop new enrichment and isolation strategies to study these organisms in the lab. By integrating microbial and geochemical analyses through comparative genomics, laboratory experiments with environmental isolates, and field studies we can begin to answer many critical questions about biological iron oxidation and other microbial processes in the environment.


Field EK, Kato S, Findlay AJ, MacDonald DJ, Chiu BK, Luther GW, Chan CS. (2016) Planktonic marine iron oxidizers drive iron mineralization under low-oxygen conditions. Geobiology 14(5):499-508.

Munson-McGee JH, Field EK, Bateson M, Rooney C, Stepanauskas R, Young M. (2015) Nanoarchaeota, their Sulfolobales host, and Nanoarchaeota virus distribution across Yellowstone National Park Hot Springs. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 81:7860-7868.

Labonté JM, Field EK, Lau M, Chivian D, Van Heerden E, Wommack KE, Kieft TL, Onstott TC, Stepanauskas R. (2015) Single cell genomics indicates horizontal gene transfer and viral infections in a deep subsurface Firmicutes population. Frontiers in Microbiology 6:349.

Field EK, Sczyrba A, Lyman AE, Harris CC, Woyke T, Stepanauskas R, Emerson D. (2015) Genomic insights into the uncultivated marine Zetaproteobacteria at Loihi Seamount. ISME Journal 9:857-870.

Swan BK, Chaffin M, Martinez-Garcia M, Morrison HG,Field EK, Poulton NJ, Masland EDP, Harris CC, Sczyrba A, Chain PSG, Koren S, Woyke T, Stepanauskas, R. (2014) Genomic and metabolic diversity of Marine Group I Thaumarchaeota in the mesopelagic of two subtropical gyres. PLoS One 9(4): e95380.

Wilkins MJ, Kennedy DW, Castelle CS, Field EK, Stepanauskas R, Frederickson JK, Konopka AE. (2014) Single-cell genomics reveal metabolic strategies for growth and survival in an oligotrophic aquifer. Microbiology 160:362-372.

Emerson D, Field EK, Chertkov O, Davenport KW, Goodwin L, Munk C, Nolan M, Woyke T. (2013) Comparative genomics of freshwater Fe-oxidizing bacteria: Implications for physiology, ecology, and systematics. Frontiers in Microbiology 4:254.

Field EK, Gerlach R, Viamajala S, Jennings LK, Peyton BM, Apel WA. (2013) Hexavalent chromium reduction by Cellulomonas sp. strain ES6: the influence of carbon source, iron minerals, and electron shuttling compounds. Biodegradation 24(3):437-450.

Gerlach R, Field EK, Viamajala S, Peyton BM, Apel WA, Cunningham AB. (2011) Influence of carbon sources and electron shuttles on ferric iron reduction by Cellulomonas sp. strain ES6. Biodegradation 22(5):983-995.

Field, EK, D’Imperio S, Miller AR, VanEngelen MR, Peyton BM, Gerlach R, Lee BD, Apel, WA. (2010) Application of molecular techniques to elucidate the influence of cellulosic waste on the bacterial community structure at a simulated Low-Level-Radioactive-Waste site. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 76(10):3106-3115.

VanEngelen, MR, Field, EK, Gerlach R, Lee BD, Apel WA, Peyton BM. (2010) UO22+ speciation determines uranium toxicity and bioaccumulation in an environmental Pseudomonas sp. isolate. Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry 24(4):763-769.

Courses Taught:

Microbial Biotechnology


Laboratory Personnel: