Patrick Shih

Born in: USA
Primary research category: Evolutionary Biology and Geobiology
Research location / employer: University of California, Davis, USA
Fellowship dates: 2017-2022

Academic Career

  • Post-doctoral Fellow, Joint BioEnergy Institute / Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2013-2017
  • PhD in Plant Biology, University of California, Berkeley, USA, 2013
  • BSc in Microbiology and BA in Political Science, University of California, San Diego, USA, 2008

Fellowship Research

Photosynthesis enables life to generate energy from sunlight and is the major driver of global primary productivity; however, we know very little about its origins. The invention of oxygenic photosynthesis by ancient Cyanobacteria enabled the rise of oxygen in our atmosphere; thus, the evolution of this bacterial phylum is part and parcel to understanding the most significant geological transition in Earth’s history. Although it is impossible to directly study organisms that existed billions of years ago, we can rely on evolutionary inferences from extant species to investigate the properties, characteristics, and metabolisms of ancient life. Thus, our understanding of early life is inherently reliant on our current sampling of the diversity of life. Recent advances in genomics and sequencing technologies are rapidly increasing our resolution across all the branches of the Tree of Life. These new discoveries may shed light on how Cyanobacteria evolved and how photosynthesis first arose. Dr. Patrick Shih will leverage metagenomic and phylogenetic techniques to expand our understanding of the evolution of photosynthesis. His overarching goal is to investigate how early microbial metabolisms have fundamentally altered the trajectory of our planet.

Major Awards

  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, 2019-2020
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Director’s Award for Exceptional Early Scientific Career Achievement, 2017
  • NIH K99 Pathway to Independence Fellowship, 2017
  • Life Sciences Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2014-2017
  • Joint BioEnergy Institute Research Contribution Award, 2014