Kate Thompson

I am microbiologist with interests in exploring how minerals interact with microbial life across different environments, both modern and ancient. My Ph.D. work with focus specifically on organisms that can phototrophically oxidize water soluble ferrous iron in an attempt to better understand how this metabolism may have impacted the ancient ocean biogeochemistry. I am hoping to pursue these interests further, after the completion of my PhD, through post-doctoral work and eventually I would like to oversee a group of people who are passionate about this work.


Ph.D. Candidate

Current Thesis Topic

Understanding modern pelagic photoferrotrophy: elucidating biogeochemical cycles in the Archean oceans.


PhD project:

  • Characterization of a newly isolated phototrophic iron oxidizing bacteria, from Kabuno Bay in East Africa
  • Molecular work to elucidate the specific genes used for iron oxidation
  • Physiological and molecular comparison of phototrophic iron oxidizing bacteria
  • Modelling the impact of this organism in the Precambrian seas
  • Field study in Kabuno Bay to further understand the microbial community in relation to the geochemistry
  • Analyze the extracellular components to look for potential biomarkers that could connect this new strain to the rock record



Thompson, K., Zong, J., Mackie, G. (2015) Altering the divalent metal ion preference of RNase E.

J Bacteriol. Vol. 197:477–482

Wong, A., McBurney, K., Thompson, K., Stickney, L., Mackie, G. (2013) The S1 and KH domains

of polynucleotide phosphorylase determine the efficiency of RNA binding and

autoregulation.  Journal of Bacteriology. Vol. 195 no. 9: 2021-2031

Melendez, I., Grice, K., Trinajstic, K., Ladjavardi, M., Greenwood, P., Thompson, K.  (2012)

Biomarkers reveal the role of photic zone euxinia in exceptional fossil preservation: An

organic geochemical perspective. Geology. Vol. 41 no. 2: 123-126 


University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia.
(January 2015 – Present)
Ph.D. student in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology – direct transfer from Master’s program.

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia.
(September 2013 – January 2015)
Master’s student in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
(September 2007 – May 2011)
Degree conferred: B.A. Biology from the College of Arts and Sciences.