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Faculty Spotlight


Faculty Spotlight: Darcy McRose

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Faculty Spotlight: Darcy McRose

Thomas D. and Virginia W. Cabot Career Development Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Darcy McRose will be co-teaching 1.018 Fundamentals of Ecology this fall and 1.089/1.89 Microbial Biogeochemistry in the spring. Learn more about her research focus and what drew her to MIT in this Faculty Spotlight.

Hometown: Myers Flat, CA

Tell us about your research focus and why you enjoy this work?

My lab is interested in understanding how soils work, especially how microbes in soil support plant health and maintain soil carbon stocks. Many important interactions in soils are mediated by small molecules that microbes use to modify their environment and to communicate with each other and with plants. Historically, these molecules have been studied in medical contexts, where they are better known as antibiotics. We want to know their functions in the environment and think that doing so is going to be crucial to understanding soils.

My favorite thing about my work is marveling at the ingenuity of microbes and designing experiments to test our hypotheses about what they are up to. We obviously cannot see microbes, so we need to get creative and use an (ever growing) set of tools in order to understand what they are doing. A clever and elegant experiment is thing of true beauty to me and working with smart people to come up with these experiments is what I get most excited about.

How did you become interested in this work?

When I was an undergraduate student, I did research on carbon cycling in soils. This research helped me realize how important microbes were in these environments and how little we really knew about what they were doing there. After this realization I decided to become a microbiologist and never looked back.

What are you most excited about/looking forward to as a CEE faculty member?

I am looking forward to being in a department that tackles environmental science as well as interactions between humans and the (built and natural) environment in such diverse ways. I have very broad interests in these topics and while my group focuses on one specific aspect, it is exciting to be able to keep those interests alive through interactions with my colleagues.

What were you doing (type of work and location) before coming to MITand what drew you to MITCEE?

I came to MIT CEE from Caltech where I was a postdoc in the Divisions of Biology and Biological Engineering and Geological and Planetary Sciences.

Who, furry or human, came with you to Cambridge?

My microbiome, I think they count.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to spend free time outdoors. I love running or going for a walk in a beautiful place. I also have a sweet tooth and am always in search of the perfect breakfast pastry.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself!

I have driven across the United States 6 times by car, and I don’t think it need to do it again for a while!