Annette Summers Engel
Donald H. Jones Professor of Aqueous Geochemistry
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Analytical Geochemistry and Geomicrobiology Facilities

Lab Group

Research Areas

The Engel Lab is comprised of a diverse group of graduate and undergraduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and staff. We recognize and celebrate diversity, inclusion, and equality as important intellectual, educational, occupational, and societal values, and work to promote diversity of people, ideas, and cultures, and to increase opportunities that enhance diversity, inclusion, and equality in our research, in the classroom, on campus, and in the broader geoscience community.
Our research focuses on how biological activities impact geological and geochemical processes. We explore how interactions among Earth’s lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere are changing through time. Our research falls broadly under the discipline of geobiology and geomicrobiology -- the study of the interactions between microbial life and geological and geochemical surroundings.
A considerable component of our research involves field work. However, there is also a strong dependency on analytical equipment for the study of gas, water, and solid-phase samples. We also use computational resources to analyze genomic and statistical data.
NEW - Research Associates 
The aqueous geochemistry and geomicrobiology laboratory directed by Dr. Annette S. Engel is looking for highly organized people to assist with a variety of research projects, including data generation in the laboratory, data analysis and bioinformatics, and potentially field research. Because the Research Associates have a hand in the research, they can also assist in preparing for and assisting with reports, presentations, and publications. Applications will be reviewed upon receipt. Email Dr. Engel  immediately if you are interested. 
NEW - Graduate Students
Interest in interdisciplinary research, including geology, chemistry, geobiology microbiology, or relevant field is required. 
Applications are welcome for interdisciplinary research assistantships in geochemistry, geobiology, molecular microbiology, symbiosis, and ecology of caves and dynamic marine and coastal habitats, including salt marshes and seagrass meadows. These projects take advantage of advanced analytical resources at the University of Tennessee, and research projects have extensive preexisting datasets and involve field work. Interested M.S. or Ph.D. students should have a strong background in the associated research disciplines. All candidates should have excellent writing and presentation skills, be capable of working in a team, and be highly motivated and committed to pursuing graduate research. Interested students should email Dr. Engel  immediately. See the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences website for more information
Undergraduate Student Workers
Interest in geology, chemistry, microbiology, or relevant field is required. 
As many as three positions are available for undergraduate students interested in working in a geomicrobiology and geochemistry laboratory, gaining experience in field and laboratory methods, and conducting independent research. Expectations are that students work 10-20 hours per week, that they attend group meetings, and they work towards presenting their research at conferences (university, regional, and national). Some positions require good computer skills and other positions will involve field work,
​such as cave exploration.

See the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences  website for Undergraduate Research  for more details.

Other Information  coming soon

Interested in joining the lab?

Learn more about the analytical capabailities and instrumentation maintained by Engel's group, and learn about possible ways to collaborate.

Why the University of Tennessee?

Methods and Protocols
We get to travel to exciting, interesting places as part of our field work. Learn more about our travel related to field research. Each research page has photographs from field work, but here are more!
Standard operating procedures are vital to any laboratory group. Learn more about our methods and protocols.
  • We are looking for NEW STUDENTS for several projects, one funded in July by the NOAA RESTORE Science Program!

  • Congratulations Dr. Terri Brown and Brandon Bagley for your recent graduations from UT in May.

  • Congratulations, Brandon Bagley, for successfully defending your MS thesis!

  • Welcome Yuan Yun to the lab, joining us for 1 year on an exchange.

  • New papers out - 
    Yun et al. (2016) The relationship between pH and bacterial communities in a single karst ecosystem and its implications for soil acidification. Frontiers in Microbiology - Extreme Microbiology.

    Keenan and Engel (2017) Early diagenesis and recrystallization of bone. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 196: 209-223. DOI:10.1016/j.gca.2016.09.033

    Keenan and Engel (2017) Reconstructing diagenetic conditions of the Gray Fossil Site, Tennessee, USA. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 471:48-57.

  • Congratulations, Terri Brown, for successfully defending your Ph.D. dissertation!

  • Undergraduate student, Hunter Johnson, presented his independent research as a poster at the Geological Society of America meeting in Denver, Co., September 2016.

  • Undergraduate student, Abby Harmon, received the 2016-2017 the Cave Conservancy Foundation’s Undergraduate Fellowship Award in Karst Studies! Congratulations, Abby! Her project is "Evaluating the impact of minor anthropogenic activities in a seemingly pristine karst watershed, Carter Caves State Resort Park, Kentucky.” 

  • Dr. Engel, Audrey Paterson, and undergraduates taking GEOL 490 (Field Studies in Coastal Biomes) travelled to San Salvador, The Bahamas, this past month to conduct research for the lucinid chemosymbiosis project. They were joined by collaborator Dr. Laurie Anderson and her students from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

  • Welcome Kenneth Boling and Chantellle Fortier to the lab group this summer! Kenneth is starting his PhD and Chantelle is a MS student.

  • New publications out - 
Hutchins et al. (2016) Chemolithoautotrophy supports macroinvertebrate food webs and affects diversity and stability in groundwater communities. Ecology,  DOI: 10.1890/15-1129.1

Plenge et al. (2016) Thermophilic archaeal diversity and methanogenesis from El Tatio Geyser Field, Chile. Geomicrobiology Journal,  DOI: 10.1080/01490451.2016.1168496

Geochemistry. Geomicrobiology. Geology. Ecology.

Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Tennessee