USGS - science for a changing world

USGS Professional Pages

Blank space
Search USGS Professionals Featured Profiles Blank space Frequently Asked Questions  |  About The USGS Professional Pages

Laurence Miller

Research Oceanographer

Contact Info

Short Biography

A. Education

1972    B.A., Marine Science, Southampton College, Long Island University

1980    M.S., Geological Science, University of Southern California


B. Professional Experience

May 1984 to Present: Research Oceanographer, National Research Program, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA

Sept. 1981 to May 1984: Oceanographer III, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Jan. 1977 to Sept. 1981: Research and Teaching Assistant, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

April 1973 to Dec. 1976: Research Technician, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY

Read Full Professional Summary

Kulp, T.R., Miller, L.G., Braiotta, F., Webb, S.M., Kocar, B.D., Blum, J.S., and Oremland, R.S. 2014. Microbiological reduction of Sb(V) in anoxic freshwater sediments. Env. Sci. & Tech. vol. 48, 218-226.

Miller, L.G., Baesman, S.M., Kirshtein, J., Voytek, M.A., and Oremland, R.S. 2013. A biogeochemical and genetic survey of acetylene fermentation by environmental samples and bacterial isolates. Geomicrobiol. Journ. vol. 30, 501–516.

Blum, J.S., Kulp, T.R., Han, S., Lanoil, B., Saltikov, C.W., Stolz, J.F., Miller, L.G., and Oremland, R.S. 2012. Desulfohalophilus alkaliarsenatis gen. nov., sp. nov., an extremely halophilic sulfate-and arsenate-respiring bacterium from Searles Lake, California. Extremophiles, vol. 16, 727- 742.

Oremland, R.S., Stolz, J.F., Madigan, M., Hollibaugh, J.T., Kulp, T.R., Hoeft, S.E., Fisher, J, Miller, L.G., Culbertson, C.W., and Asao, M. 2009. Response to comment on “Arsenic (III) fuels anoxygenic photosynthesis in hot spring biofilms from Mono Lake, California”. Science vol. 323, 583d.

Miller, L.G. and Oremland, R.S. 2008. Electricity generation by anaerobic bacteria and anoxic sediments from hypersaline soda lakes. Extremophiles, vol. 12, 837-848.

Kulp, T.R., Hoeft, S.E., Asao, M., Madigan, M.T., Hollibaugh, J.T., Fisher, J.C., Stolz, J.F., Culbertson, C.W., Miller, L.G., and Oremland, R.S. 2008. Arsenic (III) fuels anoxygenic photosynthesis in hot spring biofilms from Mono Lake, California. Science, vol. 321, 967-970.

Miller, L.G. 2007. Book review of “Geothermal biology and geochemistry in Yellowstone National Park, eds. WP Inskeep and TR McDermott”. Geofluids, vol. 7, 270-271.

Schäfer, H., Miller, L.G., Oremland, R.S., and Murrell, J.C. 2006. Bacterial cycling of methyl halides. Adv. in Appl. Microbiol., vol. 61, 307-346.

Kulp, T.R., Hoeft, S.E., Miller, L.G., Saltikov, C., Murphy, J.N., Han, S., Lanoil, B., and Oremland, R.S. 2006, Dissimilatory arsenate and sulfate reduction in sediments of two hypersaline, arsenic-rich soda lakes: Mono and Searles Lakes, California. Appl. and Environm. Microbiol., vol. 72, 6514-6526.

Baesman, S.M., and Miller, L.G. 2005. Laboratory determination of the carbon kinetic isotope effects (KIEs) for reactions of methyl halides with various nucleophiles in solution. Journ. Atmos. Chem., vol. 52, 203-219.

Oremland, R.S., Kulp, T.R., Switzer-Blum, J., Hoeft, S.E., Baesman, S.M., Miller, L.G., and Stolz, J.F. 2005. A microbial arsenic cycle in a salt-saturated, extreme environment: Searles Lake, California. Science, vol. 308, 1305-1308.

McDonald, I.R., Kampfer, P., Warner, K., Connell Hancock, T., Harper, D.B., Murrell, J.C., Miller, L.G., and Oremland, R.S. 2005. Aminobacter ciceronii sp. nov. and Aminobacter liesaraensis sp. nov., isolated from various terrestrial environments. Int. Journ. Syst. & Evol Microbiol., vol. 55, 1827-1832.

Miller, L.G., and Baesman, S.M. 2004. Removing excess methyl iodide from fumigated soil using bacteria. Final report to California Strawberry Commission Project 03-68371, 11 pp.

Miller, L.G., Warner, K.L., Baesman, S.M., Oremland, R.S., McDonald, I.R., Radajewski, S., and Murrell, J.C. 2004. Degradation of methyl bromide and methyl chloride in soil microcosms: Use of stable C isotope fractionation and stable isotope probing to identify reactions and the responsible microorganisms. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, vol. 68, 3271-3283.

Miller, L.G., Baesman, S.M., and Oremland, R.S. 2003. Bioreactors for removing methyl bromide following contained fumigations. Environ. Sci. & Tech., vol. 37, 1698-1704.

Bill, M., Miller, L.G., and Goldstein, A.H. 2002. Carbon isotope fractionation of methyl bromide during agricultural soil fumigations, Biogeochem., vol. 60, 181-190. (I organized and conducted field flux studies, helped collect samples, and wrote part of the paper).

Miller, L.G. and Goodwin, K.D. 2002. Foreword to special issue on biogeochemistry of halomethanes. Biogeochem., vol. 60, 119-120.

Roesler, C.S., Culbertson, C.W., Etheridge, S.M., Goericke, R., Kiene, R.P., Miller, L.G., and Oremland, R.S. 2002. Distribution, production, and ecophysiology of Picosystis strain ML in Mono Lake, California. Limnol. and Oceanogr., vol. 47, 440-452.

Miller, L.G., Kalin, R.M., McCauley, S.E., Hamilton, J.T.G., Harper, D.B., Millet, D.B., Oremland, R.S., and Goldstein, A.H. 2001. Large carbon isotope fractionation associated with oxidation of methyl halides by methylotrophic bacteria. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., USA, vol. 98, 5833-5837.

Kalin, R.M., Hamilton, J.T.G., Harper, D.B., Miller, L.G., Lamb, C., Kennedy, J.T., Downey, A., McCauley, S.E., and Goldstein, A.H. 2001. Continuous flow stable isotope methods for study of δ13C fractionation during halomethane production and degradation. Rapid Comm. in Mass Spectr., vol. 15, 357-362. 

Oremland, R.S., Dowdle, P.R., Hoeft, S., Sharp, J.O., Schaefer, J.K., Miller, L.G., Blum, J.S., Smith, R.L., Bloom, N.S., and Wallschlager, D. 2000. Bacterial dissimilatory reduction of arsenate and sulfate in meromictic Mono Lake, California. Geochim. et Cosmochim. Acta, vol. 64, 3073-3084.

Joye, S.B., Connell, T.L., Miller, L.G., Oremland, R.S., and Jellison, R. 1999. Oxidation of ammonia and methane in an alkaline, saline lake. Limnol. and Oceanogr., vol 44, 178-188.

Miller, L.G., Sasson, C. and Oremland, R.S. 1998. Difluromethane: a new and improved inhibitor of methanotrophy. Appl. and Environm. Microbiol., vol. 64, 4357-4362.

Connell, T.L., Joye, S.B., Miller, L.G., and Oremland, R.S. 1997. Bacterial oxidation of methyl bromide in Mono Lake, California. Env. Sci. & Technol., vol. 31, 1489-1495.

Miller, L.G., Connell, T.L., Guidetti, J.R., and Oremland, R.S. 1997. Bacterial oxidation of methyl bromide in fumigated agricultural soils. Appl. and Environm. Microbiol., vol. 63, 4346-4354.

Miller, L.G. and Aiken, G.R. 1996. The effects of meltwater inflows and moat freezing on mixing in an ice-covered antarctic lake as interpreted from stable isotope and tritium distributions. Limnol. and Oceanogr., vol. 41, 966-976.

Caffrey, J.M., Hammod, D.E., Kuwabara, J.S., Miller, L.G., and Twilley, R.R. 1996. Benthic processes in South San Francisco Bay: The role of organic inputs and bioturbation. Hollibaugh, J.T., ed. “San Francisco Bay: The Ecosystem” AAAS, 425-442.

Caffrey, J.M. and Miller, L.G. 1995. A comparison of two nitrification inhibitors used to measure nitrification rates in estuarine sediments. FEMS Microbiol. Ecol., vol. 17, 213-220.

Oremland, R.S., Miller, L.G., Dowdle, P., Connell, T., and Barkay, T. 1995. Methylmercury oxidative degradation potentials in contaminated and pristine sediments of the Carson River, Nevada.. Appl. and Environm. Microbiol., vol. 61, 2745-2753.

Oremland, R.S., Switzer-Blum, J. Culbertson, C.W., Visscher, P.T., Miller, L.G., Dowdle. P., and Strohmaier, F.E.1994. Isolation, growth, and metabolism of an obligately anaerobic, selenate-respiring bacterium, strain SES-3. Appl. and Environm. Microbiol., vol. 60, 3011-3019.

Oremland, R.S., Miller, LG., Culbertson, C.W., Connell, T.L., and Jahnke, L.L. 1994. Degradation of methyl bromide by methanotrophic bacteria in cell suspensions and soils. Appl. and Environm. Microbiol., vol. 60, 3640-3646.

Oremland, R.S., Miller, L.G. and Strohmaier, F.E. 1994. Degradation of methyl bromide in anaerobic sediments. Env. Sci, And Technol., vol 28, 514-520.

Oremland, R.S. and Miller, L.G. 1993. Biogeochemistry of natural gases in three alkaline, permanently stratified (meromictic) lakes. In D. Howell, ed. “The Future of Energy Gases”, 439-452.

Miller, L.G., Coutlakis, M.D., Oremland, R.S. and Ward, B.B. 1993. Selective inhibition of ammonium oxidation and nitrification linked N2O formation by methyl fluoride and dimethyl ether. Appl. and Environm. Microbiol., vol. 59, 2457-2464.

Smith, R.L., Miller, L.G., and Howes, B.L. 1993. The geochemistry of methane in Lake Fryxell, an amictic, permanently ice-covered, antarctic lake. Biogeochemistry, vol. 21, 95-115.

Oremland, R.S., Miller, L.G., Culbertson, C.W., Robinson, S., Smith, R.L., Lovley, D., Whiticar, M.J., King, G.M., et al. 1993. Aspects of the biogeochemistry of methane in Mono Lake and the Mono Basin of California, USA. In  R.S. Oremland (ed.) The Biogeochemistry of Global Change: Radiative Trace Gases, Chapman & Hall, NY, 705-744.

Miller, L.G., Jellison, R., Oremland, R.S. and Culbertson, C.W., 1993. Meromixis in hypersaline Mono Lake, California 3: Biogeochemical response to stratification and overturn. Limnol. Oceanogr. vol. 38, 1040-1051.

Jellison, R., Miller, L.G., Melack, J.M., and Dana, G.L., 1993.  Meromixis in hypersaline Mono Lake, California 2: Nitrogen fluxes. Limnol. Oceanog., vol. 38, 1020-1039.

Maest, A.S., Pasilis, S.P., Miller, L.G. and Nordstrom, D.K. 1992. Redox geochemistry of arsenic and iron in Mono Lake, California, USA. In Water-Rock Interaction (VII), Kharaka and Maest eds., 507-511.

Oremland, R.S., Steinberg, N.S., Presser, T.S. and Miller, L.G., 1991. In situ bacterial selenate reduction in the agricultural drainage systems of western Nevada. Appl. Environ. Microbiol., vol. 57, 615-617.

Aiken, G., McKnight, D., Wershaw, R. and Miller, L., 1991.  Evidence for the diffusion of aquatic fulvic acid from the sediments of Lake Fryxell, Antarctica.  In Baker, R. ed., Proceedings of the ACS Symposium "Organic Substances in Sediment and Water”, 75-88.

Oremland, R.S., Steinberg, N.A., Maest, A.S., Miller, L.G., and Hollibaugh, J.T., 1990.  Measurement of in situ rates of selenate removal by dissimilatory bacterial reduction in sediments.  Env. Sci. & Technol., vol. 24, 1157-1164.

Oremland, R.S., Hollibaugh, J.T., Maest, A., Presser, T., Miller, L., and Culbertson, C., 1989.  Selenate reduction to elemental selenium by anaerobic bacteria in sediments and culture: Biogeochemical significance of a novel, sulfate-independent respiration.  Appl. Eviron. Microbiol., vol. 55, 2333-2343.

McKnight, D.M., Aiken, G.R., Andrews, E.D., Bowles, E.C., Smith, R.L., Duff, J.M., and Miller, L.G., 1988.  Dissolved organic material in desert lakes in the dry valleys.  Antarct. Journ., vol. 23, 152-153.

Miller, L.G. and Oremland, R.S., 1988.  Methane efflux from the pelagic regions of four lakes.  Global Biogeochem. Cycles, vol. 2, 269-277.

Oremland, R.S., Cloern, J.E., Smith, R.L., Culbertson, C.W., Zehr, J., Miller, L., Cole, B., Harvey, R., Iversen, N., Klug, M., DesMarais, D.J., Rau, G., and Sofer, Z., 1988.  Biogeochemical and microbial processes of Big Soda Lake, Nevada. In Lacustrine Petroleum Source Rocks, K. Kelts, M. Talbot, and A. Fleet, eds., Geol. Soc. of London, Special Publication 40, 59-75.

Oremland, R.S., Miller, L.G., and Whiticar, M. J., 1987.  Sources and flux of natural gas from Mono Lake, California.  Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, vol. 51, 2915-2929.

Kiene, R.P., Oremland, R.S., Catena, A., Miller, L.G., and Capone, D.G., 1986.  Metabolism of reduced methylated sulfur compounds in anaerobic sediments and by a pure culture of an estuarine methanogen.  Appl. Environ. Microbiol., vol. 52, 1037-1045.

Sanchez, A.L., Murray, J.W., Schell, W.R., and Miller, L.G., 1986.  Fallout plutonium in two oxic-anoxic environments.  Limnol. Oceanogr., vol. 31, 1110-1121.

Miller, L.G., Oremland, R.S., and Paulsen S., 1986.  Measurement of N2O reductase activity in aquatic sediments.  Appl. Environ. Microbiol., vol. 51, 18-24.

Hammond, D.E., Fuller, C., Harmon, D., Hartman, B., Korosec, M., Miller, L.G., Rea, R., Warren, S., Berelson, W., and Hager, S.W., 1985.  Benthic fluxes in San Francisco Bay.  Hydrobiologia, vol. 129, 69-90.

Hammond, D.E., Teng, T.L., Miller, L., and Haraguchi, G., 1981.  A search for co-variance among seismicity, groundwater chemistry, and groundwater radon in Southern California.  Geophys. Res. Lett., vol. 8, 445-448.

Simpson, H.J., Trier, R.M., Olsen, C.R., Hammond, D.E., Ege, A., Miller, L., and Melack, J.M., 1980.  Fallout plutonium in an alkaline, saline lake. Science, vol. 207, 1071-1073.

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

Understanding Ecosystems & Predicting Ecosystems Change

Microbial Biogeochemistry of Aquatic Environments

Image of Current Focus for Microbial Biogeochemistry of Aquatic Environments

Arsenic Cycling in Hypersaline Lakes: Field Studies. Arsenic can be an important contaminant in drinking water. Our work characterizes the activities of naturally occuring bacteria that transform As (V) and As (III). These are highly recognizable studies, judged by the impact of papers recently published in Science and the publicity resulting from featuring our research in two national television documentaries. See left for a list of some of the publications resulting from these studies. For further information on this topic look under 'Geomicrobiology' within  the USGS Microbiology Website


Arsenic Cycling in Hypersaline Lakes: Microbial Fuel Cells. Energy stored in organic matter may be recovered within microbial fuel cells (MFCs). MFCs operate like a battery, with two electrodes separated by a membrane. Microbial fuel cells capitalize on the ability of certain bacteria to facilitate transfer of electrons to an anode. We found that pure cultures of arsenate respiring bacteria from Mono Lake and Searles Lake were equally capable of generating electricity but that electriciy generation was greater using sediments and sediment slurries from Mono Lake than those from Searles Lake. This was the first use of MFCs to demonstrate electricity production in extreme hypersaline environments and could help design life detection experiments for Mars or elsewhere. 


Acetylene oxidation by bacteria. Acetylene (C2H2) is a trace gas in today’s atmosphere but was much more abundant in the early Earth’s history and is substantially present in the atmospheres of Jupiter, Saturn and Titan. Acetylene fermenting organisms have been identified that may have played a role in the evolution of life on Earth. These organisms retain the ability to synthesize an enzyme, acetylene hydratase, which may be useful only during anoxic periods in Earth’s history. However, we have discovered several environments where this activity persists. This project employs culturing and culture-independent techniques to evaluate the diversity of these organisms in nature. This effort is a collaboration with Ron Oremland and Mary Voytek (NASA) and others. 


Perchlorate reduction linked to methane oxidation. Methane (CH4) has been detected at varying concentrations in the atmosphere of Mars. Perchlorate (HClO4) was also recently identified in Martian surface soils during the Phoenix expedition. I am currently investigating ways that microbial perchlorate reduction may be linked to the oxidation of methane in laboratory microcosms, with the idea that these compounds may be bioenergeticaly linked on the surface of Mars.

Additional descriptions of projects that I am involved with can be found, listed under my name, on the USGS Microbiology website

Awards and Committee Membership


Performance Award, USGS: 2007

Antarctic Service Award, NSF: 1988, 1990

Superior Service Award, USGS: 2003



American Geophysical Union,

American Association for the Advancement of Science,

International Society on Environmental Biogeochemistry (International Committee 1999-2017, National Committee for the 2005 meeting in Jackson, WY),

American Society for Microbiology

Contact Information

Laurence Miller
Bldg 15, McKelvey Building, 345 Middlefield Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025-3561
650-329-4463 - Fax
650-400-1953 - Mobile
Back to top

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information:Ask USGS
Page Last Modified: January 24 2013 17:21:51.
Version: 2.6