Dr. Steve McBride


Assistant Professor
Office: 272 Center for the Sciences
Lab: 266 Center for the Sciences
Box 6931, Radford University
Radford, VA 24142-6931
E-mail: smcbride@radford.edu

Courses Taught

  • BIOL 160 - Introductory Seminar in Biology
  • BIOL 334 - Microbiology



My research interests lie at the interface of soil, microbial, and ecosystem ecology. Soil ecosystems are important for food production, global elemental cycling (e.g. carbon, and nitrogen), and is a major source of biodiversity.  My lab aims to understand the biotic and abiotic mechanisms that control soil microbial community structure and function, and soil ecosystem processes. This research focus has explored how microbial signaling affects soil carbon and nitrogen processing; how the presence of insect predators alters microbial function; how antibiotics alter the processing of organic matter; and how volatile carbon compounds are important carbon sources for soil communities. To explore these foci we use a question-based approach that employs field- and lab-based experimentation, with large scale observational studies. We often pair this approach with olecular ecology analyses of the microbial community (e.g. qPCR, DNA sequencing, enzyme activity), with measurement of biogeochemical processes (soil respiration, nitrification, nitrogen fixation) allowing us to draw strong linkages between soil communities and ecosystem processes.

My lab is an anti-racist environment which aims to promote intersectional diversity, equity and inclusion, by supporting and training new scientists from all backgrounds. I highly encourage all students, regardless of research experience, academic or scientific background to contact me for opportunities in my lab. 

My lab,  SMEL:LEE lab (Soil Microbial Ecology Lab: Linking Enzymes to Ecosystems), has several ongoing projects that span interests from field ecology, experimental ecology, and molecular ecology that new researchers can join:

  1. Long-term field experiment. The SMEL:LEE lab is setting up a long-term field experiment investigating the effects of disturbance on vegetation, soil communities, and ecosystem function at the SELU observatory. More information about this project can be found here: https://nutnet.org/dragnet
  2. Short-term lab experiments. The SMEL:LEE lab has several projects are ongoing which use short lab incubation experiments to determine how soil carbon, environmental change (e.g. moisture and temperature), and chemicals (e.g. antibiotics) affect soil microbial communities and ecosystem processes. 
  3. Your idea! If you think my lab could help you answer a question you have about how the world works please feel free to contact me. I want to support your research interests to the best of my ability, so please don't hesitate to contact me with an idea you would like to get off the ground!