Edwards’ research interests focus on deep ocean and subseafloor geomicrobiology, specifically on the interactions between microbes and rocks and minerals at and below the ocean floor and how these processes influence global biogeochemical processes.
Rock, mineral, and organic matter transformations play critical roles in balancing the chemistry of environments that pervade Earth's near surface and shallow subsurface – in both the terrestrial and oceanic realms – and have done so throughout geological time. These transformations are fundamentally linked, from molecular to global scales of resolution, and biologically influenced, if not controlled. The cornerstone of the Edwards lab research is in the development of a mechanistic understanding of the microbial processes and controls on rock, mineral, and organic matter transformations, and the establishment of means to delineate their influences. We do so by addressing fundamental questions about the role microbes have played in Earth processes today, and through geologic time, such as:
*How do microbes influence rock and mineral transformations? What are the mechanisms?
*What are the quantitative influences microbes have on rock and mineral transformations? What is the magnitude of their influence over geologic time?
*What are the records of microbial influence on rock and mineral transformation over time?
*How has the role that microbes play in rock, mineral, and organic matter transformations changed over time? How have the records of these interactions changed over time?
Present research projects in the deep ocean and subseafloor include examination of the chemistry and microbial ecology of hydrothermal plumes, experimentation with microbial communities in-situ in subseafloor borehole observatories, study of biological iron oxidation, and genomic and metagenomic study of both isolates and microbial communities.