Michelle Yuen ’19



Project Title

Hydrocarbon-Degrading Microorganisms in the Continental Crust: Good or Bad News?

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The long-term goal of this research project was to construct the genomes for hydrocarbon-degrading microorganisms found in fracture fluid samples from mines. Very little is known about these microorganisms that reside far beneath the Earth’s surface. It is possible that they could be used for bioremediation efforts, but they also have the potential to destroy valuable fossil fuel resources. During my internship, I researched microorganisms capable of degrading hydrocarbons. The overwhelming majority of these organisms turned out to be bacteria. With this information, I accumulated a set of reference genomes available on the website of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Then, using parallel and cloud computing, we analyzed sequencing data and how they mapped onto the reference genomes. Using these mappings, we hope to identify key proteins and construct a genome for the bacteria found in the fracture fluids. This internship gave me the opportunity to experience bioinformatics research firsthand and fostered my interest in pursuing research, publishing, and coding in the future.

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Onstott Group, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ


Tullis Onstott, Professor, Geosciences