Sean Gibbons, PhD

Washington Research Foundation Distinguished Investigator & Assistant Professor

Sean Gibbons received his Ph.D. in biophysical sciences from the University of Chicago in 2015, dual-advised by Jack Gilbert and Maureen Coleman. His graduate work focused on using microbial communities as empirical models for testing ecological theory. Gibbons completed his postdoctoral training in Eric Alm’s laboratory in the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT from 2015-2018. His postdoctoral work focused on developing techniques to quantify individual-specific eco-evolutionary dynamics within the human gut microbiome.

Gibbons has won several scholarships, fellowships and awards over the course of his academic career. He was awarded a Fulbright Graduate Fellowship to study microbiology and synthetic biology at Uppsala University in Sweden, where he earned a master’s degree in 2010. His Ph.D. work was supported by an EPA STAR Graduate Fellowship. His current faculty position at ISB is supported by a gift from the Washington Research Foundation*.

Microbial communities are complex (i.e. many interacting species) and adaptive (i.e. evolving). Complex, adaptive systems continually reorganize themselves in response to the environment. Gibbons investigates how the structure and composition of evolving ecological networks of microorganisms change across environmental gradients. In particular, he is interested in how ecological communities in the gut change and adapt to individual people over their lifespans (i.e. host genotype, host development and host behavior) and how these changes impact human health. His lab will use host-associated microbial communities to explore the interactions between ecology, evolution and ecosystem function, applying these insights to develop personalized interventions for improving human health and well-being.

*Washington Research Foundation and WRF Capital support groundbreaking technology in the life sciences, physical sciences and information sciences.

Microbial ecology, evolution, complex adaptive systems, bioinformatics, the human microbiome

2008
University of Montana, BSc, BA, BA, (microbiology, molecular biology, French)

2010
Uppsala University, MSc, microbiology

2015
University of Chicago, PhD, biophysical sciences