Cristina Takacs-Vesbach (born 1968) is an American microbial ecologist
studying microbes in Antarctica's McMurdo Dry Valleys.
1 Early life and education
2 Career and impact
3 Awards and honors
5 External links
Early life and education
Takacs-Vesbach was born in
New Jersey in 1968 and raised in San Juan,
Puerto Rico. Originally, she had a fascination with astrophysics, but
after a sophomore-level course in biogeography, taught by Dr. Alex
Cruz at University of Colorado Boulder, she was drawn to biology. She
graduated in 1991 from CU Boulder with a BA in Environmental,
Population, and Organismic Biology.
Takacs-Vesbach developed a passion for microbial ecology in Dr. Brad
Tebo's laboratory at
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego,
CA in 1994. Interested in microbial thermophiles of Yellowstone
National Park research, she joined Dr. John Priscu's laboratory at
Montana State University
Montana State University in 1994. Takacs-Vesbach spent three field
seasons in the
McMurdo Dry Valleys
McMurdo Dry Valleys as a graduate student, including
one WinFly season. Takacs-Vesbach was one of two US women who were the
first to spend WinFly in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. She completed her
dissertation research on the factors affecting bacterioplankton
biomass and productivity in Antarctic lakes 1999, graduating with a
PhD in Microbial Ecology with a minor concentration in Biochemistry
from Montana State University.
Career and impact
Following graduation, Takacs-Vesbach took a three-year postdoctoral
position with Dr. Anna-Louise Reysenbach at Portland State University
where she conducted research on the thermophiles of Yellowstone
National Park. In 2002, Takacs-Vesbach joined the faculty of the
Department of Biology at the University of New Mexico, awarded tenure
in 2009 and promoted to full Professor in 2015.
Takacs-Vesbach’s contributions to Antarctic science have been in the
field of microbial ecology. Until her doctoral research on
bacterioplankton biomass and productivity in the lakes of the McMurdo
Dry Valleys, Antarctica, bacterioplankton were considered unimportant.
She used a forward difference model to show that not only are bacteria
significant to the biomass of these lakes, but that substantial
predation occurs every season to reduce bacterial biomass by up to 88%
at the height of the growing season. Further work by Takacs-Vesbach in
this system included estimates of bacterioplankton organic carbon
demand and respiration rates. Takacs-Vesbach also contributed to the
description of the first microbiological study of sub-glacial Lake
Vostok. Along with her colleagues, Takacs-Vesbach reported the
presence and activity of bacteria associated with the accretion ice
>4 km below the surface of the Antarctic polar plateau. This
provided evidence that life may exist in inhospitable settings, which
opened the possibility that other planetary bodies, such as Europa or
Enceladus, may harbor life today. It is only in the past few years
Lake Vostok and other similar subglacial lakes finally have been
sampled, confirming the initial findings of Takacs-Vesbach and her
colleagues that life can exist in the deep icy subsurface of
Takacs-Vesbach ’s Antarctic research focuses on the microbial
diversity across various aquatic and soil habitats of the McMurdo Dry
Valleys. Her work revealed microbial diversity in this system can
be as high as temperate and tropical soils, and although activity is
low, it is the highest reported activity per g of soil carbon.
Takacs-Vesbach is interested in determining the spatial and temporal
variations of microbial diversity, distribution, and function across
all major McMurdo Dry Valley habitats, including cryoconites, streams,
lakes, and soils.
Takacs-Vesbach was a member of the National Academy of Sciences
Committee on the Development of a Strategic Vision for the U.S.
Antarctic Program and a member of the U.S. National Committee
for the International Polar Year.
Awards and honors
Takacs-Vesbach received the Outstanding Performance in a Doctoral
Program Award during 1999 from the Montana State University
Foundation, Bozeman. This competition is an annual university-wide
competition among doctoral degree students.
In 1995-1999, she received the NASA-Montana Space Grant Fellowship
from the Montana Space Grant Consortium, Bozeman. This grant came from
a statewide competition offering a full scholarship and stipend for
doctoral students, awarded to 2-3 students.
During 1995 and 1996, she received the Leopold Schepp Foundation
Scholarship from the Leopold Schepp Foundation which is a national
competition that recognizes students based on ability and character.
^ "Students in the News". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Retrieved
^ "C. Takacs-Vesbach". biology.unm.edu. University of New Mexico.
^ "Cristina Takacs-Vesbach: CV". biology.unm.edu. University of New
Mexico. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
^ "Cristina Vesbach". scholar.google.com. Google Scholar. Retrieved
^ a b "Team Led By MSU Biologist Finds Bacteria Deep In Antarctic
Ice". sciencedaily.com. Science Daily. 1999. Retrieved
^ Fox, Douglas (2014-08-21). "Lakes under the ice: Antarctica's secret
garden". Nature. 512 (7514): 244–246. Bibcode:2014Natur.512..244F.
doi:10.1038/512244a. PMID 25143097.
^ "Biodiversity". mcmlter.org.
McMurdo Dry Valleys
McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER. Retrieved
^ "Climate change puts spotlight back on Antarctic soils". soils.org.
Soil Science Society of America. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
^ "Pulse-Press Project". mcmlter.org.
McMurdo Dry Valleys
McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER.
^ "New report recommends research priorities for Antarctic and
Southern Ocean science". EurekAlert!. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
^ Medicine, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and
(2015-08-11). A Strategic Vision for NSF Investments in Antarctic and
Southern Ocean Research. pp. Chapter 1. doi:10.17226/21741.
^ "Cristina Takacs-Vesbach". learningcenter.nsta.org. The NSTA
Learning Center. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
^ Council, National Research (2005-07-25). Preventing the Forward
Contamination of Mars. pp. Appendix A. doi:10.17226/11381.
^ Staff, Chronicle. "Students in the News". Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
Cristina Takacs-Vesbach on Go