Bruce Fouke


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Bruce Fouke is a Professor in Geology, Microbiology, and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He also serves as Director of the Illinois Roy J. Carver Biotechnology Center. Bruce completed his B.Sc. at Bradley University, M.Sc. degrees at the University of Iowa and the University of Chicago, and his Ph.D. at Stony Brook University. He then completed postdoctoral appointments at the Free University Amsterdam, the University of California Berkeley, and Exobiology at NASA Ames Research Center. He was recently chosen as the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Roy M. Huffington Distinguished Lecturer for the Asia-Pacific Region, during which he lectured in India, Japan, China, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand. Bruce has held professorships at Lund University, Sweden, and the Illinois Center for Advanced Studies, and has active adjunct faculty appointments at the Thermal Biology Institute at Montana State University and the Caribbean Research and Management of Biodiversity Laboratory on Curaçao. He serves on multiple science panels at NSF, DOE, NASA and the European Science Foundation. 


Bruce's laboratory research group focuses on the cross-disciplinary intersection of geology and molecular microbiology (Geobiology), with emphasis on the emergence and survival of Life within the context of dynamic Earth processes. Results have direct application to a wide variety of pressing societal interests that range from energy and human medicine to environmental sustainability and space exploration. Our active research projects include studies of: (1) applications of sedimentology, geochemistry and molecular microbiology to oil and gas exploration and production; (2) quantification of the rate, mode and tempo of microbial evolution in response to steep gradients using a microfluidic test bed called the GeoBioCell; (3) the control of sea surface temperature on coral reef ecosystems, coral skeleton synthesis and the global emergence of infectious marine diseases; (4) the response of heat-loving (thermophilic) bacteria to changes in hot-spring flow rate, chemistry and temperature; (5) the timing and hydrology of the last flow of water in ancient Roman aqueducts; and (6) understanding human kidney stone formation with integrated geobiology approaches.


Bruce teaches a diverse suite of courses that emphasize interdisciplinary research approaches and the personal connection between innate curiosity and geobiological environments. This plays out through integrated learning experiences in the classroom, in the laboratory and importantly at field sites around the world. His courses include History of Life, Oceanography, Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, Yellowstone Biocomplexity, Coral Reef Biocomplexity, and Advanced Geology Field Courses. He has also offers a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC; and Illinois Online Course entitled Emergence of Life. He was recently awarded the Illinois Campus-Wide awards from the Office of the Provost and the Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, as well as the Broadrick-Allen Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Illinois Campus Honors Program. 

Workshop Participant, Website Contributor

Website Content Contributions

Activity (1)

Systems Geobiology Powers of 10 part of Cutting Edge:Develop Program-Wide Abilities:Complex Systems:Teaching Activities
Systems Geobiology is the study of complex interactions arising from the interplay of biological, geological, physical, chemical and even social systems across multiple spatial (microns to thousands of kilometers) ...

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Essay (1)

Systems Geobiology: CaCO3-Water-Microbe Feedback Interactions in Hot Springs and Coral Reef Ecosystems part of Cutting Edge:Develop Program-Wide Abilities:Complex Systems:Workshop 2010:Participant Essays
Bruce W. Fouke, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Department of Geology, Department of Microbiology, and Institute for Genomic Biology Systems Geobiology Overview A fundamental shift is underway in the ...

Other Contributions (2)

Geobiology and the Emergence of Terraced Architecture during Carbonate Mineralization : Mammoth, Yellowstone National Park part of Microbial Life:Research Methods:Bio-geochemical Methods
(Visit the Fouke Lab Created by George Rice, Montana State University Objectives and Methods: The goal of this project is to determine how the biodiversity and ...

Results:Mammoth Hot Springs part of Microbial Life:Research Methods:Bio-geochemical Methods
Created by George Rice, Montana State University A generic approach to large scale modeling of terraced architecture at Mammoth Hot Springs has been used to explain the formation of ponds, the variations in ...