C-DEBI Newsletter – December 1, 2015
This newsletter is also accessible via our website.

Greetings!  C-DEBI is excited to start Phase II (2015-2020) with a call for proposals that supports our new research themes and our education, outreach, and diversity objectives (see links in the individual message to follow). Based on knowledge generated and insights obtained in Phase I (2010-2015), C-DEBI is transitioning from exploration-dominated investigations to projects that balance discovery with hypothesis testing, data integration, and ecosystem modeling. We will, of course, maintain our multi-disciplinary approach that couples microbiology, geochemistry, oceanography, and hydrology, but the emphasis will lean a bit more towards microbiology. I look forward to continued, strong engagement by the community through our many C-DEBI programs and activities. 

Jan Amend
C-DEBI Director


Proposal Calls

C-DEBI: Proposal Calls for Deep Biosphere Research, Fellowship and Education Grants
The NSF Science and Technology Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) invites proposals for 1-year research projects (in the anticipated range of $50,000-$80,000) and 1-2 year graduate student and postdoctoral fellowships that will significantly advance C-DEBI's central research agenda: to investigate the subseafloor biosphere deep in sediments and the volcanic crust, and to conduct multi-disciplinary studies to develop an integrated understanding of subseafloor microbial life at the molecular, cellular, and ecosystem scales. Phase 2 of C-DEBI comprises a transition from dominantly exploration-based investigations to projects that balance discovery with hypothesis testing, data integration and synthesis, and ecosystem modeling. C-DEBI also invites proposals to support education and outreach projects, with a budget of up to $50,000 and a project duration of 1 year. The C-DEBI Education & Outreach Grants Program will fund the development of educational opportunities and materials that are pertinent to deep biosphere research in the subseafloor environment in support of our education and outreach goal to create distinctive, targeted education programs and promote increased public awareness about life below the seafloor. Funding is only available to individuals sponsored in US institutions. The next deadline for these annual calls is January 31, 2016.

NSF: Small Business Technology Transfer Program Phase I (STTR) Proposal Solicitation
Full proposal deadline: December 11, 2015.

NOAA: Ocean Exploration 2016 Funding Opportunity
Closing date for applications: January 8, 2016.

NSF: Earth Sciences Postdoctoral Fellowships (EAR-PF)
Full proposal deadline: January 12, 2016

IODP-USSSP: Apply to Sail:Expeditions 367 and 368, South China Sea Rifted Margin
The deadline to apply is January, 15 2016.

National Academies: Research Associateships for Graduate, Postdoctoral and Senior Researchers
There are four annual review cycles and the next closes February 01, 2016.

NSF: Geobiology and Low-Temperature Geochemistry Program Solicitation
Proposals accepted anytime.

IODP-USSSP: Proposals for Pre-Drilling Activities and Workshops
The U.S. Science Support Program (USSSP) accepts proposals on a rolling basis for pre-drilling activities and semi-annually for workshops, related to the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP).

BISAL: Biology and Planetary Exploration in the Deep Subsurface - Call for Experiments
Experiments that cover any area of deep surface biology and astrobiology or planetary exploration are of potential interest.


Education & Outreach

C-DEBI: Applications Now Open for the 2016 Summer Undergraduate GEM Course
The GEM Course is an all-expenses paid, four-week intensive introductory course in Global Environmental Microbiology (GEM) geared for early career undergraduates from 2 and 4 year institutions. The course focuses on microbes found in aquatic environments investigated through authentic research experiences (students collect, process & interpret data).  This residential course includes lectures, labs and fieldwork at USC, the Eastern Sierra Mountains, and on Santa Catalina Island.
Where:  University of Southern California
When:  June 5 – July 1,2016
Who:  Undergraduates from 2 or 4-year colleges
Cost:  FREE, including travel, plus modest stipend
How to apply:
Note:  First generation college, women, and under-represented students encouraged to apply
Application Opens:  December 01, 2015
Application Deadline:  February 02, 2016
For questions and comments, contact Stephanie Schroeder at

MARUM: ECORD Training Course, March 7-11, 2016
As host to one of only three IODP core repositories in the world – the only one in Europe – the MARUM in Bremen is an important hub for marine geoscientists. Taking advantage of this setting, the new ECORD Training Course will provide a “Virtual Drillship Experience” for scientists from academia and industry. This one-week course offers a basic training focusing on the IODP core flow procedures, preparing the participants for sailing in an offshore drillship expedition, and instilling them with an appreciation for high standards in all kinds of coring projects. IODP-style lab exercises will form the foundation of the ECORD Training Course following the pattern of the unique “Virtual Ship” approach developed for the Bremen ECORD Summer Schools. The application deadline is January 06, 2016.

NSF: Advanced Training Program in Antarctica for Early Career Scientists: Biological Adaptations to Environmental Change – July 2016
This US National Science Foundation sponsored course will be held in Antarctica at Palmer Station (Antarctic Peninsula) in July 2016. The course is designed to train scientists who are interested in the study of extreme environments and the biology of Antarctic organisms. Applications are invited from graduate students currently enrolled in a PhD program and researchers who have an earned Ph.D. within the past five years. This is an international course, open to all nationalities. Partial scholarships are available to cover the cost of travel from home institution and full support is provided for room/board and science activities while in Antarctica. The emphasis of the Antarctic Biology Course is on integrative biology, with laboratory- and field-based projects focused on adaptations in an extreme polar environment. This program will also provide opportunities to understand and appreciate the complexities and logistical challenges of undertaking successful science in Antarctica. A diverse teaching faculty will offer students the opportunity to study a wide range of Antarctic organisms (bacteria, algae, invertebrates, and fish), using several different levels of biological analysis (molecular biology, physiological ecology, species diversity, and evolution). Deadline for receipt of completed applications is January 25, 2016. STEM funding and opportunities for students, including paid summer research, graduate fellowships, and graduate programs
IBP’s mission is to increase diversity in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) workforce. We design and implement strategies to increase access to STEM education, funding, and careers, with special emphasis on reaching underserved communities and diverse underrepresented groups. makes it easy for faculty and administrators to access resources that can assist them in their efforts to reduce barriers to participation, create environments rich in the positive factors that support student success on the STEM pathway, and conduct outreach to underserved communities and underrepresented groups by implementing recruitment and retention strategies that broaden participation and increase diversity. 

The Rolex Scholarships
Application deadline: December 15, 2015.



Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Stealth export of hydrogen and methane from a low temperature serpentinization system
B.I. Larson, S.Q. Lang*, M.D. Lilley, E.J. Olson, J.E. Lupton, K. Nakamura, N.J. Buck
*C-DEBI Contribution 294

Chemical input to the deep sea from hydrothermal systems is a globally distributed phenomenon. Hydrothermal discharge is one of the primary mechanisms by which the Earth’s interior processes manifest themselves at the Earth’s surface, and it provides a source of energy for autotrophic processes by microbes that are too deep to capitalize on sunlight. Much is known about the water-column signature of this discharge from high-temperature mid-ocean Ridge (MOR) environments and their neighboring low-temperature counterparts. Hydrothermal discharge farther away from the ridge, however, has garnered less attention, owing in part to the difficulty in finding this style of venting, which eludes methods of detection that work well for high-temperature ‘black smoker’-type venting. Here we present a case study of the plume from one such ‘invisible’ off-axis environment, The Lost City, with an emphasis on the dissolved volatile content of the hydrothermal plume. Serpentinization and abiotic organic synthesis generate significant concentrations of H2 and CH4 in vent fluid, but these species are unevenly transported to the overlying plume, which itself appears to be a composite of two different sources. A concentrated vent cluster on the talus slope channels fluid through at least eight chimneys, producing a water-column plume with the highest observed concentrations of CH4 in the field. In contrast, a saddle in the topography leading up to a carbonate cap hosts broadly distributed, nearly invisible venting apparent only in its water-column signals of redox potential and dissolved gas content, including the highest observed plume H2. After normalizing H2 and CH4 to the 3He background-corrected anomaly (3HeΔ) to account for mixing and relative amount of mantle input, it appears that, while a minimum of 60% of CH4 is transported out of the system, greater than 90% of the H2 is consumed in the subsurface prior to venting. The exception to this pattern occurs in the plume originating from the area dubbed Chaff Beach, in which somewhat more than 10% of the original H2 remains, indicating that this otherwise unremarkable plume, and others like it, may represent a significant source of H2 to the deep sea.

Proceedings of the IODP, Volume 329
Data report: diatom biostratigraphy of IODP Site U1371 in the South Pacific Ocean
Itsuki Suto and Go-Ichiro Uramoto

Diatom biostratigraphic analyses of late Miocene to Pleistocene sediments in Hole U1371D of Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 329 in the South Pacific Gyre are invoked although several reworked diatoms are included. The nine diatom biozones recognized indicate an estimated age of 8.67 Ma at ~100 meters below seafloor. Moreover, abundant occurrences of diatom resting spores at ~2.5 Ma indicate a eutrophication increase.

Special Issue of Frontiers in Microbiology: manuscript submission deadline extended
Deep biosphere researchers: please note that the deadline for submitting a manuscript to the special issue of Frontiers in Microbiology, Recent Advances in Geomicrobiology of the Ocean Crust (topic eds. B.N. Orcutt, J.B. Sylvan, C.M. Santelli), has been extended to January 04, 2016.


Meetings & Activities
Geobiology Gordon Research Conference, January 31 - February 5, 2016
There is a new Geobiology Gordon Research Conference to be held January 31 - February 5, 2016 in Galveston, TX. The meeting will focus on critical biological, chemical, and physical processes and feedbacks in the natural world, and reconstruct how these have changed over Earth history. The sessions cover experimental and environmental microbiology, depositional environments and their relation to biogeochemical processes, and the nature of geobiological information preserved in the geologic record. These sessions highlight open questions, novel experimental and conceptual approaches, and active areas of research within the field. We hope to bring together scientists from across the globe to exchange ideas, tools, and expertise from different subdisciplines with the goal facilitating bridge building across the disparate fields within geobiology. A detailed schedule and other relevant information can be found at: The deadline for submitting applications is January 3, 2016. If you have any questions, please contact David Fike (

Subseafloor Biosphere-related AGU Sessions
25th International Geological Congress, Cape Town, South Africa, August 27-September 4, 2016: IODP Symposium call for abstracts
This symposium appears under the Marine Geosciences and Oceanography theme. The abstract submission is now open until January 2016



University of South Carolina: PhD. and M.S. positions available in subsurface biogeochemistry
The Isotope Biogeochemistry group at the University of South Carolina is recruiting Ph.D. and M.S. students to work on research focused on life and the fate of carbon in the subsurface. Research topics include the abiotic formation of organic molecules, identifying the metabolisms used by microbes living in serpentinizing habitats, and investigating what happens to oceanic organic matter as it passes through the rocky subsurface. Study locations include the Atlantis Massif, which is currently being drilled as a part of IODP Expedition #357, and the Lost City hydrothermal field which will be the focus of an upcoming a research cruise with the ROV Jason. Students will lead the biogeochemical characterization of fluids and rock samples, including the analysis of stable and radiocarbon isotopes of specific compounds. A background in chemistry and experience with geochemical and/or isotope analysis is preferred but not required. Interested students should contact Dr. Susan Lang at to discuss the project in more detail, and in advance of submitting an application to the USC graduate program (deadline January 15, 2016).

UC Berkeley: Two faculty positions, Earth and Planetary Science
All applications should be submitted online by December 04, 2015.

Bigelow: Postdoctoral Research Scientist
Review of applicants will begin on December 15, 2015.

Harvard: Postdoctoral position available in crystal growth and geobiology
The position is open immediately and will remain open through December 31, 2015.

URI: Assistant Professor of Oceanography
Applications will be reviewed beginning January 7, 2016 and continue until the position is filled.

Don’t forget to email me with any items you'd like to share in future newsletters! You are what makes our deep biosphere community!
Matthew Janicak
Data Manager
Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI)
University of Southern California
3616 Trousdale Pkwy, AHF 209, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0371
Phone: 708-691-9563, Fax: 213-740-2437

Exploring life beneath the seafloor and making transformative discoveries that advance science, benefit society, and inspire people of all ages and origins.

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