JP Balmonte is a PhD student at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying Arctic microbial communities and their activities within the context of carbon cycling. He employs various DNA sequencing techniques to analyze the structure of bacterial communities that thrive in the perennially ice-covered Arctic and combines it with geochemical assays to look at their role in degradation of specific polysaccharide and peptide substrates. The goal is to understand how bacterial communities from various regions and depths in the water column and in surface sediments differ in their ability to degrade organic matter, the factors that structure these differences, as well as to identify specific bacterial taxa that carry out these processes. He is currently an HHMI Teaching Fellow and will be teaching a first year seminar on Ocean Exploration at UNC.
JP Balmonte graduated from University of California, San Diego in 2011 with a BS in Molecular Biology and Environmental Systems and completed his MS in Marine Sciences at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2014.