Brandon Briggs, Ph.D.

Dr. Brandon Briggs
Associate Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
(907) 786-1548


  • Ph.D., Oceanography, Oregon State University, 2011
  • M.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2007
  • B.S., Biological Sciences, Idaho State University, 2003

Teaching Responsibilities

  • BIOL A451: Microbial Biotechnology
  • BIOL A455: EL Bioinformatics (Online Course)

Research Interests

My research is highly interdisciplinary and has both a geomicrobiology and applied microbiology focus. I use molecular, physiological, microscopic, and bioinformatic techniques to understand how microbes respond to environmental conditions and in turn how microbes can modify their environment. For example, temperature, pH, and salinity control microbial distributions; however, microbial processes affect biogeochemical cycles both at the local and global scale. Elucidating the interdependence between microbial and geologic processes is needed to understand global functioning and response to climate change, potential clean up of contaminated environments, and limits to life. The geomicrobiology side of my research, specifically, has addressed the questions: How does environmental stress alter microbial distributions and functions, and what microbial attributes affect biogeochemical cycles? In general I ask these questions in extreme environments that have an abundance of novel microorganisms and functional pathways; yet often provide a simplified view of the microbial ecology that can provide insight into more complex environments, life on early Earth, or potential life on other planets. Some of the environments that I have studied are deep marine sediments, terrestrial hot springs, and Tibetan saline lakes.

The applied side of my lab uses a systems biology approach to modify microbe-microbe and microbe-environment interactions for the benefit of humans. Currently, I am working on increasing the efficiency of producing bio-products. Olefins such as ethylene, propylene, and isobutene are hydrocarbons that are key precursors for numerous chemicals and are currently primarily produced through petrochemical processes. Bioproduction of these olefins may replace petrochemical production given key advances in both fermentation reactions and optimized microbial interactions. For example, in manure microbial communities work together to ferment organic carbon into methane. However, a significant amount of chemical energy remains even after methane is produced. More efficient reactions that produce industrially significant hydrocarbons are needed.


* indicates co-written with students

Hedlund, B.P., A.L. Reysenbach, L. Huang, J.C. Ong, Z. Liu, J.A. Dodsworth, R. Ahmend, A.J. Williams, B.R. Briggs, Y. Liu, H. Dong (2015). Isolation of diverse members of the Aquificales from geothermal springs in Tengchong, China. Frontiers in Microbiology: 6 (157).

*Wang, S., H. Dong, W. Hou, H. Jiang, Q. Huang, B.R. Briggs, L. Huang (2014). Greater seasonal changes of sediment microbial community than its waterborne counterpart in Tengchong hot springs, Yunnan Province, China. Scientific Reports: 4:7479.

*Huang, Q^., B.R. Briggs^, H. Dong, H. Jiang, G. Wu, C. Edwardson, I. De Vlaminck, S. Quake (2014). Taxonomic and functional diversity provides insight into microbial pathways and stress responses in the saline Qinghai Lake, China. PloS One: 9(11) e111681. ^equal contribution.

*Singh, R., H. Dong, D. Liu, L. Zhao, A. R. Marts, E. Farquhar, D. L. Tierney, C. B. Almquist, B. R. Briggs (2014). Reduction of hexavalent chromium by the thermophilic methanogenMethanothermobacter thermautotrophicusGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta:148:442-456.

*Briggs, B. R., E. L. Brodie, L. M. Tom, H. Dong, H. Jiang, Q. Huang, S. Wang, W. Hou, L. Huang, B. P. Hedlund, C. Zhang, P. Dijkstra and B. A. Hungate (2013). Seasonal patterns in microbial communities inhabiting the hot springs of Tengchong, Yunnan Province, China.Environmental Microbiology 16:1579-1591

*Briggs B.R., M. Graw, J.-J. Bahk, S.-H. Kim, J.-H. Hyun, E.S. Brodie, F.S. Colwell. (2013) Microbial distributions in marine sediments that transition geochemical zones associated with methane. Journal of Marine and Petroleum Geology 47: 147-154.

*Huang Q., H. Jiang; B.R. Briggs, S. Wang, W. Hou, G. Li, G. Wu, R. Solis, C. Arcilla, T. Abrajano, H. Dong (2013). Archaeal and bacterial diversity in acidic hot springs in the Philippines.FEMS Microbiology Ecology 85(3): 452-464.

Li Z., B.R. Briggs, P. Sheridan, M. Shields (2013). An anion-exchange method to concentrate dissolved DNA from aquifer water. Journal of Microbiological Methods 93:1-8.

*Hou W., S. Wang, H. Jiang, H. Dong, B.R. Briggs, J.P. Peacock, Q. Huang, L. Huang, G. Wu, X. Zhi, W. Li, J.A. Dodsworth, B.P. Hedlund, C. Zhang, H.E. Hartnett, P. Dijkstra, B.A. Hungate (2013). A comprehensive census of microbial diversity in hot springs of Tengchong, Yunnan Province, China using 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing. PloS One 8(1): e53350.

Briggs B.R., F. Inagaki, Y. Morono, T. Futagatami, C. Huguet, A. Rosell-Mele, T.D. Lorenson, F.S. Colwell (2012). Bacterial dominance in subseafloor sediments characterized by methane hydrates. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 88:89-98.

Briggs B.R., J. Pohlman, M. Torres, M.E. Riedel, E.S. Brodie, F.S. Colwell (2011). Macroscopic biofilms in fracture-dominated sediment that anaerobically oxidize methane. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 77: 6780-6787.

*Colwell F.S., A. Schwartz, B.R. Briggs (2011). Microbial community distribution in sediments from the Mount Elbert Gas Hydrate Stratigraphic Test Well, Alaska North Slope. Journal of Marine and Petroleum Geology 28:404-410.

Briggs B.R., T. Mitton, R. Smith, T.S. Magnuson (2009). Teaching Cellular Respiration &Alternate Energy Sources with a Laboratory Exercise Developed by a Scientist-Teacher Partnership. American Biology Teacher 71(3): 164-167.

Briggs B.R., A. Hangsterfer, E. Brodie, R. Daly, M. Holland, P. Carini, M. Torres, M. Kastner, P. Long, H. Schaef, M. Delwiche, W. Winters, M. Riedel, F.S. Colwell (2008). Distribution of the dominant microbial communities in marine sediments containing high concentrations of gas hydrates. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Gas Hydrates, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 5807:1-6.

Career History/Work Experience

  • 2015-Present: Assistant Professor, University of Alaska Anchorage
  • 2014-2015: Visiting Assistant Professor, Miami University
  • 2013-2015: C-DEBI Post Doctoral Fellow, Miami University
  • 2011-2013: Post-Doctoral Research Assistant, Miami University
  • 2010-2011: Adjunct Faculty, Linn Benton Community College