Location: CHCB 109a
Phone: (406) 241-2038
The following projects are available for interested students (please contact Dr. Blank for more information):
Building a microbial ontology and natural language processing tools to automate study of microbial character evolution (http://avatol.org/ngp/nlp/overview-2/).
Genomics and biochemistry of chitin metabolism in the cyanobacteria and eukaryotic microalgae.
Bioplastics from cyanobacteria.
Biofuel production in microalgae.
Wastewater treatment for the green chemical industry using algae.
Pulp and paper mill wastewater treatment using algae.
Evolution of microbial traits on the Precambrian Earth.
Connecting microbial evolution with climate change records of the past.
PhD 2002; University of California, Berkeley; Integrative Biology
BSc 1992; University of Washington, Seattle; Microbiology and Immunology
BSc 1992; University of Washington, Seattle; Cell and Molecular Biology
At University of Montana:
Intro to Physical Geology: Spring 2012, Winter 2012, Fall 2011, Winter 2010, Fall 2010
At Washington University:
Controversies in Astrobiology: Fall 2006, Spring 2005, Spring 2003
Intro to Astrobiology: Spring 2006, Spring 2004
Microbes in the Environment: Fall 2003, Fall 2005
Topics in the Geosciences - History of Science: Spring 2006
Topics in the Geosciences - Microbial Evolution: Spring 2005
Seminar in Population Biology - Tree of Life: Spring 2005
Constructing an ontology of microbial phenotypes to advance data integration of phenotypes and genotypes.
Developing natural language processing tools for extracting phenotypic data from microbial taxonomic descriptions.
Microbial phylogenomics; identifying core phylogenies and lateral transfer events defining the ecological niches.
Evolution of habitat and physiological traits in the prokaryotes, with focus on Cyanobacteria and Archaea.
Correlating microbial evolutionary events with changes in the Earth’s climate and biogeochemical cycles.
Reconstructing the evolution of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur microbial biogeochemical cycles through deep time.
Green technology research involving Cyanobacteria and microalgae for renewable chemical manufacturing and wastewater remediation, in partnership with local Montana biotech companies.
2007-present Research Assistant Professor, University of Montana, Geosciences Dept.
2010-2012 Adjunct Assistant Professor; University of Montana, Geosciences Dept.
2002-2007 Assistant Professor, Washington University, Dept. Earth and Planetary Sciences
Blank CE. 2013. Origin and early evolution of photosynthetic eukaryotes in freshwater environments – reinterpreting Proterozoic paleobiology and biogeochemical processes in light of trait evolution. Journal of Phycology 49(6):1040-1055. DOI: 10.1111/jpy.12111.
Blank CE. 2013. Phylogenetic distribution of compatible solute synthesis genes support a freshwater origin for Cyanobacteria. Journal of Phycology 49(5):880-895. DOI: 10.1111/jpy.12098.
Gammons CH, Pape BL, Parker SR, Poulson SR, Blank CE. 2013. Geochemistry, water balance, and stable isotopes of a “clean” pit lake at an abandoned tungsten mine, Montana, USA. Applied Geochemistry, 36:57-69. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2013.06.011.
Burleigh JG, Alphonse K, Alverson A, Bik H, Blank CE et al. 2013. Next generation phenomics for the tree of life. PLoS Currents - Tree of Life. doi: 10.1371/currents.tol.085c713acafc8711b2ff7010a4b03733.
Blank CE. 2012. Low rates of lateral gene transfer among metabolic genes define the evolving biogeochemical niches of Archaea through deep time. Archaea doi:10.1155/2012/843539.
Blank CE. 2011. An expansion of age constraints for microbial clades that lack a conventional fossil record using phylogenomic dating. Journal of Molecular Evolution, 73(3), 188-208.
Blank CE and Sánchez-Baracaldo P. 2010. Timing of morphological and ecological innovations in the Cyanobacteria – A key to understanding the rise in atmospheric oxygen. Geobiology, 8(1), 1-23.
Blank, CE. 2009. Not so old Archaea – The antiquity of biogeochemical processes in the archaeal domain of life. Geobiology, 7(5), 495-514.
Blank CE. 2009. Phylogenomic dating - A method of constraining the age of microbial taxa that lack a conventional fossil record. Astrobiology, 9(2):173-192.
Blank CE. 2009. Phylogenomic dating – The relative antiquity of archaeal metabolic and physiological traits. Astrobiology, 9(2):192-220.
Blank CE. 2008. Phylogenomic dating and the relative ancestry of prokaryotic metabolisms. In: "From Fossils to Astrobiology", edited by M. Walsh and J. Seckbach, Springer-Verlag.
Tenesch AC, Dietrich A, Cady SL, Blank CE, and Hinman NW. 2008. Silica deposition on cells in environmentally defined experimental solutions. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 72(12):A940.
Huntress WT, Noonan NE, Atreya SK, Blank CE, et al., 2007. Grading NASA’s Solar System Exploration Program; A Midterm Review. National Research Council Committee on Assessing NASA’s Solar System Exploration Program.
Sánchez-Baracaldo P, Hayes PK, and Blank CE. 2005. Morphological and habitat evolution in the Cyanobacteria using a compartmentalization approach. Geobiology, 3(3):145-165.
Blank CE. 2004. Evolutionary timing of the origins of mesophilic sulfate reduction and oxygenic photosynthesis: A phylogenomic dating approach. Geobiology, 2(1):1-20.
Blank CE, Cady SL, and Pace NR. 2002. Microbial composition of silica-depositing thermal springs throughout Yellowstone National Park. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 68(10):5123-5135.
Leigh JA, Kessler PS, and Blank CE. 1998. Regulation of nif gene transcription in Methanococcus maripaludis, In: “Biological Nitrogen Fixation for the 21st Century”, C. Elmerich, A. Kondorosi, and W. E. Newton, eds., pp. 115-116.
Kessler PS, Blank CE, and Leigh JA. 1998. The nif gene operon of the methanogenic archaeon Methanococcus maripaludis. Journal of Bacteriology, 180(6):1504-1511.
Cohen-Kupiec R, Blank CE, and Leigh JA. 1997. Transcriptional regulation in Archaea: In vivo demonstration of a repressor binding site in a methanogen. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 94:1316-1320.
Cattolico RA, Hariharan T, Johnson P, Blank C, and Kurtz H. 1996. Evolutionary variations in phosphoribulokinase among autotrophic organisms. Journal of Phycology, 32(3):SUPPL. 10.
Blank CE, Kessler PS, and Leigh JA. 1995. Genetics in methanogens: transposon insertion mutagenesis of a Methanococcus maripaludis nifH gene. Journal of Bacteriology, 177:5773-7.
Production of Cyanobacterial or Algal Biomass Using Chitin As a Nitrogen Source. Patent Number 8,673,619, issued 3/18/2014 (filed 3/26/2012). Submitted as International Patent Application No. PCT/US12/30620; Filed 3/26/12. Originally submitted as Provisional Patent Photosynthetic Degradation of Chitin Using Cyanobacteria or Algae for Biomass or Biofuel Production. Serial No. 61/467,869; FIled 3/25/11.
2014 Luigi Provasoli Award, awarded by the Phycological Society of America.
Blank CE. 2014. Data from: Origin and early evolution of photosynthetic eukaryotes in freshwater environments – reinterpreting proterozoic paleobiology and biogeochemical processes in light of trait evolution. J Phycology. MorphoBank project P1097.
Blank CE. 2013. Data from: Low rates of lateral gene transfer among metabolic genes define the evolving biogeochemical niches of archaea through deep time. Archaea: An International Microbiological Journal doi:10.5061/dryad.j87v8.
Blank CE. 2013. Data from: An expansion of age constraints for microbial clades that lack a conventional fossil record using phylogenomic dating. Journal of Molecular Evolution doi:10.5061/dryad.30j63.
Blank CE. 2013. Data from: Timing of morphological and ecological innovations in the cyanobacteria – a key to understanding the rise in atmospheric oxygen. Geobiology doi:10.5061/dryad.11vj2.
Blank CE. 2013. Data from: Not so old Archaea - the antiquity of biogeochemical processes in the archaeal domain of life. Geobiology doi:10.5061/dryad.71r61.