NorthenLab: Exometabolomics linking genomes with environments to understand how webs of microbes sustain biomes

New Lab Member Highlight: Jenny Onley

The Northen Lab is excited to welcome Jenny Onley to the lab as an affiliate researcher. Learn more about Jenny in the following interview. 

What is your area of expertise? Could you talk a little bit about your background and what brought you to your field? 

My expertise is in environmental microbiology, but over the years I branched out into a variety of topics! My dissertation research focused on nitrogen and iron cycling by microorganisms and on factors that influence bioremediation. After receiving my Ph.D., I worked on diagnostic microbiology at Beckman Coulter, learning a lot about product development and mass spectrometry. However, the science that excites me the most is the application of microbiology to green technologies (e.g., biofuels, bioremediation, and fermentation). That passion brought me to JBEI, where I plan to expand our knowledge of lignin degradation by enzymes.

Do you have any anecdotes or funny stories from your previous research?

At a previous job, my coworker and I had to do a lot of colony counts (i.e., very mundane work) every morning for a certain project. He would sing the Folgers jingle, only it was “The best part of wakin’ up, is counting colonies!” It cracked me up every time.

What research topics or experimental techniques are you most excited to work on in the Northen Lab? 

I am excited to use Northen’s mass spectrometry techniques (e.g., NIMS) and expand on them. I look forward to increasing our knowledge of enzymatic lignin modification. The lab has an abundance of resources and historical knowledge; I am lucky to work in such an environment!

Could you name a favorite book, piece of music, video game, or movie?

My favorite video game is Mario Kart. I started on the Nintendo 64 platform as a kid, and now I’m on the Nintendo Switch!