UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Estelle Couradeau, assistant professor of soils and environmental microbiology in the College of Agricultural Sciences, will host a Marie Curie Fellow.
The award will fund postdoctoral scholar Jose Raul Roman to study for two years in Couradeau’s Penn State lab and a third year in Fernando Maestre’s lab at the University of Alicante in Spain. Roman recently finished his doctoral degree, working on biocrust restoration.
The Marie Curie Fellowship — one of the most prestigious and competitive postdoctoral fellowships in Europe — is funded by the European Union. It will enable Couradeau to link her research group to that of Maestre, a distinguished scientist who leads the Dryland Ecology and Global Change Lab. Collectively, they will study how climate change influences microbial communities.
“Marie Curie Fellowships are designed to launch the career of a promising postdoc fellow,” said Couradeau. “FernandoMaestre is one of the most productive and highly cited scientists in the world — he works on global change ecology in soils — and I am grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with his research group through this project.”
Biocrusts, which are arid land topsoils that cover 12% of Earth’s continents, are responsible for the fertility and stability of arid land soils, Couradeau explained. “They are significant contributors to global carbon and nitrogen cycles and are endangered by climate change,” she said. “This project is about understanding the resilience of these soil communities in the face of climate change, using cutting-edge molecular and microscopy methods.”
Couradeau was named a Marie Curie fellow in 2013 when she was a postdoctoral scholar at Arizona State University. Her project was a collaboration with the University of Burgundy, France, where she did her return phase in 2016, studying cyanobacteria.
–Jeff Mulhollem, Penn State University