Virginia Rich

Assistant Professor
Joint appointment in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Joint appointment in Molecular and Cellular Biology
Member of the Institute for the Environment
office: Saguaro Hall, 309 / lab: 301 Saguaro Hall

301 Saguaro Hall

1110 E South Campus

(or for "regular" mail: P.O. Box 210038)

Tucson, AZ 85721

Office Phone: 
(520) 621-3670
Cell Phone: 
(617) 694-5087
Lab Phone: 
(520) 621-1309

Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Arizona, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, Saleska Lab, Dec. 2008 – Aug. 2011 (half-time Feb ’10 – Mar ’11)

Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Joint Program, DeLong Lab, 2008

B.A., University of California at Berkeley, 1998

8/2011-present*: Assistant Professor, Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences Department, University of Arizona   * part-time 11/11 - 11/12)


1999 – 2002: Lecturer, Teaching Associate, Laboratory Technician, Intern; University of Washington, Seattle (Departments of Biology and Biochemistry, and Friday Harbor Laboratories)



1. How do microbial communities in thawing permafrost mediate carbon cycling, and feed back to climate change?  September 2010 - present

Approach: We are working with biogeochemists and modelers to examine carbon cycling across an in situ permafrost thaw gradient. We intensively monitor microbial community composition and metabolic activity (through 16S rRNA sequencing and meta-omics), carbon gas fluxes and isotope compositions (through an autochamber system with in-line quantum cascade laser spectroscopy), and porewater and bulk phase geochemistry (through standard methods and FT-ICR-MS), at the long-term field site of Stordalen Mire. The modelling component of our project examines scaling of biogeochemical and molecular inferences from the soil column and plot level to the ecosystem and region. Our lab leads the microbial metaproteomics and is heavily involved with the microbial community compositional analyses, and coordinates the field sampling campaigns. 

Co-investigators: Saleska Lab (Univ. of Arizona), Tyson Lab (Univ. of Queensland), Crill Lab (Stockholm Univ.), Chanton Lab (Florida State Univ.), Li and Frolking Labs (Univ. of New Hampshire), and Abisko Research Station in Sweden


2. How do near-shore microbial and viral communities “buffer” reef systems from terrestrial pollutants? January 2011 - present

Approach: This interdisciplinary effort is the synthetic vision of microbial and viral ecologists, marine chemists, coral biologists, hydrodynamic modelers, and ecosystem modelers, under lead PI Gene Tyson (University of Queensland). We are working to test whether near-shore microbial and viral communities sequester and/or transform terrestrial-derived pollutants and thereby “buffer” from the Reef from their full effects. My lab is leading the analysis of the viral communities in the context of the microbial community diversity and pollution metadata.

Co-investigators: Tyson Lab (Univ. of Queensland), Sullivan Lab (UA), Bourne and Schaffelke Labs (Australian Institute for Marine Science)


3. What are the systems-level effects of compost-based management of turfgrass? May 2012 - present

Approach: This interdisciplinary UA-focused project leverages the UA Organic Land Stewardship Program to investigate the whole-system impacts of compost treatment on turfgrass, expanding the more traditional metrics of soil nutrient cycling and water holding capacity to include greenhouse gas flux, microbial and macrobial community response, and plant-pathogen interactions. I coordinate this effort, and my lab leads the collection, processing, sequencing and analyses of the microbial communities. 

Co-investigators: Joost van Haren (UA), Troy Hollar (Merlin Organics) Katerina Donstova (UA), Mitch Pavao-Zuckerman (UA).



Environmental Microbiology, SWES 425/525, Co-Instructor with Dr. Raina Maier, graduate/undergraduate course, offered each fall

Microbial Biogeochemistry and Global Change, SWES 427/527, Instructor, University of Arizona, SWES Dept. (beginning Spring 2014), recurring annually

Microbial Ecology and Environmental Microbiology Graduate Seminar, SWES 696x,  Instructor, offerred biennially (Co-instructed with Dr. Jean McLain in Fall 2012)



University of Arizona

  • Co-instructor for Global Change, a mixed undergraduate and graduate class in the Geosciences and the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Depts., taught by Drs. Julie Cole and Scott Saleska. Fall 2009. Guest Lecturer in Fall 2010.
  • Guest Lecturer for Marine Biology, a majors and non-majors class in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, taught by Dr. Katrina Mangin. Spring 2011.
  • Guest Lecturer for Biology of the Oceans, a mixed undergraduate and graduate class in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, taught by Dr. Matt Sullivan. Fall 2008, 2010, 2011.

University of Washington at Seattle, 1/00 – 6/02

  • Lecturer and Teaching Associate, for the Friday Harbor Lab’s “Research Apprenticeship on Acetabularia Morphogenesis and Development”. Our apprenticeship received the best reviews of any at FHL, and we returned to offer a second iteration. Fall 2000, Spring 2002.
  • Teaching Associate and Assistant Lab Coordinator, for U.W.’s Biology 201, “Introductory Biology: Genetics and Biochemistry”. Winter 2000, Spring 2000, Spring 2001.
  • Teaching Associate, for U.W.’s Biochemistry 442, “Cellular and Molecular Biology”. Spring 2000.

McCalley CK, Woodcroft BJ, Hodgkins SB, Wehr R, Kim E-H, Mondav R, Crill PM, Chanton JP, Rich VI, Tyson GW, Saleska SR. 2014. Methane dynamics regulated by microbial community response to permafrost thaw. Nature. 514: 478-481. 


Hodgkins SB, Tfaily MM, McCalley CK, Logan T, Crill PM, Saleska SR, Rich VI, Chanton JP. 2014. Changes in peat chemistry associated with permafrost thaw increase greenhouse gas production. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 111: 5819–5824.


Mondav* R, Woodcroft* BJ, Kim E-H, McCalley MK, Hodgkins SB, Crill PM, Chanton JP, Hurst GB, VerBerkmoes N, Saleska SR, Hugenholtz P, Rich VI, Tyson GW. 2014. Discovery of a novel methanogen prevalent in thawing permafrost. Nature Communications. 5: 3212. doi:10.1038/ncomms4212


Rich, V, Maier RM. 2013. Chapter 6 – Aquatic Microbiology, In: Ian L. Pepper, Charles P. Gerba, Terry Gentry, Editor(s), Environmental Microbiology (Third Edition), Academic Press, San Diego. In press.  


Rich, V, Pham V, Eppley J, Shi Y, DeLong EF. 2011. Time-series analyses of Monterey Bay coastal microbial picoplankton using a ‘genome proxy’ microarray. Environmental Microbiology. 13: 116-134.


Rich, V, Konstantinidis K, DeLong EF. 2008. Design and testing of “genome proxy” microarrays to profile marine microbial communities. Environmental Microbiology, 10: 506-521.

                              Faculty of 1000 “Must Read” paper, 4 Feb 2008.


DeLong EF, Preston CM, Mincer T, Rich V, Hallam SJ, Frigaard NU, Martinez A, Sullivan MB, Edwards R, Brito BR, Chisholm SW, Karl DM. 2006. Community genomics among stratified microbial assemblages in the ocean's interior. Science. 311:496-503.

                              Faculty of 1000 “Recommended” paper, 17 Feb 2006


Horz, H-P, Rich V, Avrahami S, and Bohannan BJ. 2005. Methane-oxidizing bacteria in a California upland grassland soil: diversity and response to simulated global change. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 71(5): 2642-2652.



Kim E-H*, de Leon K*, Woodcroft BJ, Jones RM, Shah M, Tyson GW, VerBerkmoes NC, and Rich VI. Optimizing soil metaproteomic methods to capture natural microbial community expression. Manuscript in preparation.


de Leon K, Kim E-H, Woodcroft BJ, McCalley C, Hodgkins S, Logan T, Wehr R, Crill PM, Chanton JP, Saleska SR, Tyson GW, and Rich VI. Microbial carbon cycling across a natural permafrost thaw gradient through the lens of biogeochemistry and metaproteomics. Manuscript in preparation.