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Faculty Image Carrine E. Blank
Office: CHCB 109a
Phone: (406) 241-2038
Email: carrine.blank@umontana.edu
Curriculum Vita: View/Download CV

 

Research Interests:

Microbial Evolution/Bioinformatics:

Constructing an ontology of microbial phenotypes to advance data integration of phenotypes and genotypes (https://github.com/carrineblank/MicrO). 

Developing natural language processing tools for extracting phenotypic data from microbial taxonomic descriptions.

Microbial phylogenomics; identifying core phylogenies and lateral transfer events defining the ecological niches.

Evolution of habitat and physiological traits in the prokaryotes, with focus on Cyanobacteria and Archaea.

Geobiology:

Correlating microbial evolutionary events with changes in the Earth’s climate and biogeochemical cycles.

Reconstructing the evolution of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur microbial biogeochemical cycles through deep time.

Green Biotechnology:

Green technology research involving Cyanobacteria and microalgae for renewable chemical manufacturing and wastewater remediation, in partnership with local Montana biotech companies.

Education:

PhD 2002; University of California, Berkeley; Integrative Biology

BSc 1992; University of Washington, Seattle; Microbiology and Immunology

BSc 1992; University of Washington, Seattle; Cell and Molecular Biology

Teaching Experience:

At University of Montana:

Intro to Physical Geology: Spring 2012, Winter 2012, Fall 2011, Winter 2010, Fall 2010

At Washington University:

Controversies in Astrobiology: Fall 2006, Spring 2005, Spring 2003

Intro to Astrobiology: Spring 2006, Spring 2004

Microbes in the Environment: Fall 2003, Fall 2005

Topics in the Geosciences - History of Science: Spring 2006

Topics in the Geosciences - Microbial Evolution: Spring 2005

Seminar in Population Biology - Tree of Life: Spring 2005

Specialized Skills:

Patents:

Production of Cyanobacterial or Algal Biomass Using Chitin As a Nitrogen Source.  Patent Number 8,673,619, issued 3/18/2014 (filed 3/26/2012). Submitted as International Patent Application No. PCT/US12/30620; Filed 3/26/12.  Originally submitted as Provisional Patent Photosynthetic Degradation of Chitin Using Cyanobacteria or Algae for Biomass or Biofuel Production.  Serial No. 61/467,869; FIled 3/25/11.

Professional Experience:

2007-present Research Assistant Professor, University of Montana, Geosciences Dept.

2010-2012 Adjunct Assistant Professor; University of Montana, Geosciences Dept.

2002-2007 Assistant Professor, Washington University, Dept. Earth and Planetary Sciences

Honors/Awards:

2014 Luigi Provasoli Award, awarded by the Phycological Society of America.

Selected Publications:

Blank CE.  2013.  Origin and early evolution of photosynthetic eukaryotes in freshwater environments – reinterpreting Proterozoic paleobiology and biogeochemical processes in light of trait evolution.  Journal of Phycology 49(6):1040-1055.  DOI: 10.1111/jpy.12111.

Blank CE.  2013.  Phylogenetic distribution of compatible solute synthesis genes support a freshwater origin for Cyanobacteria. Journal of Phycology 49(5):880-895. DOI: 10.1111/jpy.12098.

Gammons CH, Pape BL, Parker SR, Poulson SR, Blank CE.  2013.  Geochemistry, water balance, and stable isotopes of a “clean” pit lake at an abandoned tungsten mine, Montana, USA.    Applied Geochemistry, 36:57-69. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2013.06.011.

Burleigh JG, Alphonse K, Alverson A, Bik H, Blank CE et al.  2013. Next generation phenomics for the tree of life. PLoS Currents - Tree of Life.  doi: 10.1371/currents.tol.085c713acafc8711b2ff7010a4b03733.

Blank CE. 2012.   Low rates of lateral gene transfer among metabolic genes define the evolving biogeochemical niches of Archaea through deep time.  Archaea  doi:10.1155/2012/843539.

Blank CE.  2011.  An expansion of age constraints for microbial clades that lack a conventional fossil record using phylogenomic dating. Journal of Molecular Evolution, 73(3), 188-208.

Blank CE and Sánchez-Baracaldo P.  2010.  Timing of morphological and ecological innovations in the Cyanobacteria – A key to understanding the rise in atmospheric oxygen.  Geobiology, 8(1), 1-23.

Blank, CE.  2009.  Not so old Archaea – The antiquity of biogeochemical processes in the archaeal domain of life.  Geobiology, 7(5), 495-514.

Blank CE.  2009.  Phylogenomic dating - A method of constraining the age of microbial taxa that lack a conventional fossil record.  Astrobiology, 9(2):173-192.

Blank CE.  2009.  Phylogenomic dating – The relative antiquity of archaeal metabolic and physiological traits.  Astrobiology, 9(2):192-220.

Blank CE.  2008.  Phylogenomic dating and the relative ancestry of prokaryotic metabolisms.  In: "From Fossils to Astrobiology", edited by M. Walsh and J. Seckbach, Springer-Verlag.

Tenesch AC, Dietrich A, Cady SL, Blank CE, and Hinman NW.  2008. Silica deposition on cells in environmentally defined experimental solutions.  Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 72(12):A940.

Huntress WT, Noonan NE, Atreya SK, Blank CE, et al.,  2007.  Grading NASA’s Solar System Exploration Program; A Midterm Review.  National Research Council Committee on Assessing NASA’s Solar System Exploration Program.

Sánchez-Baracaldo P, Hayes PK, and Blank CE.  2005.  Morphological and habitat evolution in the Cyanobacteria using a compartmentalization approach.  Geobiology, 3(3):145-165.

Blank CE.  2004.  Evolutionary timing of the origins of mesophilic sulfate reduction and oxygenic photosynthesis: A phylogenomic dating approach.  Geobiology, 2(1):1-20.

Blank CE, Cady SL, and Pace NR.  2002.  Microbial composition of silica-depositing thermal springs throughout Yellowstone National Park.  Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 68(10):5123-5135.

Leigh JA, Kessler PS, and Blank CE.  1998.  Regulation of nif gene transcription in Methanococcus maripaludis, In: “Biological Nitrogen Fixation for the 21st Century”, C. Elmerich, A. Kondorosi, and W. E. Newton, eds., pp. 115-116.

Kessler PS, Blank CE, and Leigh JA.  1998.  The nif gene operon of the methanogenic archaeon Methanococcus maripaludisJournal of Bacteriology, 180(6):1504-1511.

Cohen-Kupiec R, Blank CE, and Leigh JA.  1997.  Transcriptional regulation in Archaea: In vivo demonstration of a repressor binding site in a methanogen.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 94:1316-1320.

Cattolico RA, Hariharan T, Johnson P, Blank C, and Kurtz H.  1996.  Evolutionary variations in phosphoribulokinase among autotrophic organisms.  Journal of Phycology, 32(3):SUPPL. 10.

Blank CE, Kessler PS, and Leigh JA.  1995.  Genetics in methanogens: transposon insertion mutagenesis of a Methanococcus maripaludis nifH gene.  Journal of Bacteriology, 177:5773-7.

Other Publications:

Blank CE.  2014.  Data from: Origin and early evolution of photosynthetic eukaryotes in freshwater environments – reinterpreting proterozoic paleobiology and biogeochemical processes in light of trait evolution.  J Phycology.  MorphoBank project P1097.

Blank CE. 2013. Data from: Low rates of lateral gene transfer among metabolic genes define the evolving biogeochemical niches of archaea through deep time. Archaea: An International Microbiological Journal doi:10.5061/dryad.j87v8.

Blank CE.  2013.  Data from: An expansion of age constraints for microbial clades that lack a conventional fossil record using phylogenomic dating. Journal of Molecular Evolution doi:10.5061/dryad.30j63.

Blank CE.  2013.  Data from: Timing of morphological and ecological innovations in the cyanobacteria – a key to understanding the rise in atmospheric oxygen. Geobiology doi:10.5061/dryad.11vj2.

Blank CE.  2013.  Data from: Not so old Archaea - the antiquity of biogeochemical processes in the archaeal domain of life. Geobiology doi:10.5061/dryad.71r61.