Contributor since Fall 2017

Jacob R. Barnett

PhD Student in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology

Jacob R. Barnett

Research Area: Microbiomes, soils, microbial ecology, metagenomics

We are surrounded by life science, whether we realize it or not. Just look at the back of your hand - there are over 1,000 species of bacteria living on your skin at any given time, a fact that continues to amaze me. I am fascinated by the ecosystems that are both on us and all around us, from those bacteria on your hand to the towering trees of a forest. I am constantly curious, and scientific discovery brings me great joy. As a member of the Blanchard Lab at UMass Amherst, I am currently studying the microbes in the soil of the Harvard Forest and how these tiny yet ubiquitous creatures affect carbon cycling and climate change. Before starting at UMass I was an educator for 10 years, including 4 years as a 7th grade life science teacher in Reading, MA; 2 years as a high school biology/chemistry teacher in Acton, MA; and 2 years as an environmental education outdoor instructor in New Hampshire. As a former teacher, I easily get jazzed about science outreach! I am active in the OEB Science Cafe program (, and I help promote the That’s Life [Science] blog through social media as a member of the Communications Committee.