Photo of Kari Dunfield

Professor,
School of Environmental Science

Dr. Kari Dunfield received her BSc in Cellular Molecular Microbial Ecology at the University of Calgary, and earned her MSc in Plant Science and PhD in Soil Science at the University of Saskatchewan. Since joining the University of Guelph in 2004, she has been performing innovative research in environmental microbiology. Dr. Dunfield uses molecular techniques to study the impacts of human activities on soil microbial communities, and the resulting effect on soil function and health.

Her work is often multi-disciplinary and in collaboration with various scientists and university partners (UBC, University of Saskatchewan, Algoma University and Nova Scotia Agricultural College). Dr. Dunfield’s current research focuses on two major issues of importance to Ontario and Canada. The first examines the impact of agricultural practices (tillage and growing crops for biofuels) on soil microbial communities associated with greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration. The second involves the survival and transport of human pathogens in soils, surface and subsurface waters. Dr. Dunfield is looking at application methods of manure and sewage biosolids that minimize the survival of pathogenic microorganisms in the environment.

Soil microorganisms are responsible for many important soil functions such as biogeochemical cycling, carbon sequestration and plant growth. According to Dr. Dunfield, agricultural practices that change the biodiversity of soil microorganisms can in turn impact soil ecosystem health and environmental sustainability.