Dr. Mary Ann Bruns



  1. Ph.D., Crop and Soil Sciences, Michigan State University, 1996
  2. M.A. Urban and Regional Planning, Environmental Sector, Univ. of Iowa, 1988
  3. M.S. Food Science and Technology, Univ. of Nebraska, 1978
  4. B.A. Microbiology, Univ. of Nebraska, 1974

Responsibilities and Interests:

Research in the Bruns lab aims to gain understanding of soil microbial responses to anthropogenic disturbance and of microbes’ roles in mitigating disturbance effects.

Humans are constantly altering the face of the Earth—through forest clearing, urban development, agricultural cropping, strip mining. When soils are subjected to drastic disturbances, their complex biological networks are also disrupted. Well-established interactions among roots, fungi, other microflora, and micro- and macrofauna are all destroyed once vegetation is removed and soil is upturned, buried, or eroded away. Humans have little understanding of the ecosystem services performed by these underground biological networks or the impacts their losses may have (had) on local, regional, and global biogeochemical cycles.

We are studying nitrogen transformations in agricultural soils; beneficial microbe-mineral-plant interactions in reclaimed soils; and multi-functional biological crusts on arable soils. We combine molecular, microbiological, biochemical, microscopic, and mineralogical techniques to explore microbe-mineral-plant interactions.


  • 30% Teaching
  • 70% Research

Courses Taught:

  • Soil Ecology (Soils 412W, 3 cr, every fall, undergraduate)
  • Environmental Soil Microbiology (Soils 512, 3 cr, spring of even years)