As a microbial ecologist, my primary research goal is to understand the ecological processes and mechanisms that govern microbial interactions, including among microbes as well as between microbes and their environment. Because microbes function at the interface between abiotic and biotic components of the environment, microbial activity regulates nearly all biogeochemical processes, from photosynthesis to decomposition. Advances in sequencing technologies and bioinformatic analyses have allowed an unprecedented view into the diversity and distribution of microorganisms; yet we have a surprisingly superficial understanding of how microbial communities really function in the environment. My research focuses on several interrelated themes to gain new insights into potential ecosystem-level influences of microbial activities. Currently, these include (1) Molecular and biochemical factors underlying microbial resource use, (2) Influence of bottom-up and top-down factors on microbial activity and population dynamics. My research goals contribute to a framework for linking microbial activity with ecosystem processes. By understanding how ecological, environmental, and evolutionary factors affect microbial resource use and interactions, we can predict with greater confidence how ecosystems will respond under changing environmental conditions.