Project Info

Microbial Contents of Snow

John Spear

Project Goals and Description:

For the past several years our lab has been collecting snow from nearly every snow storm that tracks through Golden, Colorado. We are primarily interested in the microbial contents of the snow in terms of the kinds of microbiota that are present in the snow. We also consider the changing geochemistry of the snow in terms of elemental composition. We need to continue the work to have a temporal transect of snow events across time, but we also need to start to consider the transport of micro plastics and plastic nano-particles in snow. All of this is essential to better understand the contents of incoming water to western waterways upon snow melt and the provision of cleaner water to growing populations.

More Information:

Grand Challenge: Provide access to clean water.
Honeyman, A.S., M. Day and J.R. Spear.  2018. “Regional Fresh Snowfall Microbiology and Chemistry are Driven by Geography in Storm-Tracked Events, Colorado, USA.”  PeerJ, 6: e5961;  doi: 10.7717/peerj.5961.  

Primary Contacts:

John Spear,

Student Preparation


--Strong intellectual curiosity --Some knowledge of biology / microbiology --Passion to learn and explore


Between three and five hours per week


Sample collection; phase contrast microscopy; epifluorescent microscopy; scanning electron microscopy; DNA extraction and sequence preparation; perhaps some DNA bioinformatic knowledge


Selected student will primarily be working one on one with a graduate student from the research group. PI Spear will oversee the work and meet weekly to biweekly with the undergraduate to consider all aspects of the work. We are an open research group of diverse individuals where human connection and personal knowledge are embraced as they often lead to surprising insights and discovery--always a goal!


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