Katherine (Trina) McMahon

Trina McMahon
Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor
330 North Orchard Street
Madison WI 53715
Joined WID: 2018


  • BS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • MS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • PhD, University of California at Berkeley

Research Description

My students and I study the microbial ecology of both natural and engineered systems. We use molecular tools to investigate microbial community structure and function in lakes and activated sludge. More recently, we have been using high-frequency environmental sensor networks to measure important variables that we know influence bacterial communities. Sensor data provided through the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (http://www.gleon.org) guides our adaptive sampling efforts and provides rich contextual data for our studies of lake bacterial community ecology. We are particularly interested in phosphorus as a nutrient driving eutrophication, and the role that bacteria play in phosphorus cycling. We are also engaged in metagenomic and post-genomic approaches to dissecting the metabolism of bacteria specialized in the sequestration of phosphorus in activated sludge. This information will ultimately lead to the construction of more predictive mechanistic and ecosystem-scale models to describe such processes as wastewater treatment and freshwater nutrient cycling.