Blaire T. Steven

Image of Blaire Steven

Department of Environmental Sciences
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
123 Huntington Street
P.O. Box 1106
New Haven, CT 06504
Voice: (203) 974-8461  Fax:  (203) 974-8502

Dr. Steven is an environmental microbiologist with expertise in soil and aquatic environments. His research interests are to better understand how microbial populations respond and contribute to various climate change scenarios. Professional experience includes classical and molecular microbiology, metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, and bioinformatics.

Past Research
Dr. Steven’s research career has involved studying the microbial communities in Canadian high Arctic permafrost, freshwater algal blooms, and biological soil crusts of the Southwest U.S.A.

Current Research
Microbial communities are exquisitely sensitive to small perturbations in the environment. The ability to predict how microbes respond and contribute to important climate and biogeochemical cycles is required for accurate ecosystem models. Dr. Steven’s work focuses on using molecular and microbial techniques to better describe complex microbial systems. Current systems of interest include Connecticut and Arctic wetlands, harmful algal blooms in Connecticut lakes, and wood-degrading bacterial/fungal communities.       

B.Sc., Cellular Molecular and Microbial Biology, University of Calgary, 2001
M.Sc., Microbiology, McGill University, 2003
Ph.D., Microbiology, McGill University, 2008

University of Wyoming, 2009-2011
Los Alamos National Laboratory, 2011-2014

Station Career
Assistant Agricultural Scientist II, 2014-2019
Associate Agricultural Scientist, 2019-present 

Selected Publications
A full list of Dr. Steven’s publications is available at

  • Steven B, Kuske CR, Reed SC, Belnap J. (2015) Climate change and physical disturbance manipulations result in distinct biological soil crust communities. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 81:7448-7459

  • Steven B, Gallegos-Graves LV, Yeager C, Belnap J, Kuske CR (2014) Common and distinguishing features of the bacterial and fungal communities in biological soil crusts and shrub root zone soils. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 69:302-312.
  • Steven B, Gallegos-Graves LV, Belnap J, Kuske CR (2013) Dryland soil microbial communities display spatial biogeographic patterns associated with soil depth and soil parent material. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 86:101-113.
  • Steven B, Lionard M, Kuske CR, Vincent WF (2013) High bacterial diversity of biological soil crusts in water tracks over permafrost in the high Arctic polar desert. PLoS One, e71489.
  • Steven B, McCann S, Ward NL (2013) Pyrosequencing of plastid 23S rRNA genes reveals diverse and dynamic cyanobacterial and algal populations in two eutrophic lakes. FEMS AMicrobiology Ecology, 82:607-613.
  • Steven B, Gallegos-Graves LV, Yeager CM, Belnap J, Evans RD, Kuske CR (2012) Dryland biological soil crust cyanobacteria show unexpected decreases in abundance under long-term elevated CO2. Environmental Microbiology, 14:3247-3258.
  • Steven B, Gallegos-Graves LV, Starkenburg SR, Chain PS, Kuske CR (2012) Targeted and shotgun metagenomic approaches provide different descriptions of dryland soil microbial communities in a manipulated field study. Environmental Microbiology Reports, 4:248-256.
  • Steven B, Pollard WH, Greer CW, Whyte LG (2008) Microbial diversity and activity through a permafrost/ground ice core profile from the Canadian high Arctic. Environmental Microbiology, 10:2288-3403.
  • Steven B, Briggs G, McKay CP, Pollard WH, Greer CW, Whyte LG (2007) Characterization of the microbial diversity in a permafrost sample from the Canadian high Arctic using culture-dependent and culture-independent methods. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 59:513-523.