Brian Hedlund

Professor, Life Sciences
Expertise: Microbial Ecology and Genomics, Life at High Temperature, Astrobiology, Biotechnology and Biofuels, International Collaboration (China)


Brian Hedlund’s research focuses on life in high temperature habitats, especially geothermal springs in the Western U.S. and China. The study of high-temperature ecosystems (>73°C) is a research frontier because temperature alters the ecology of these systems in ways that are important but poorly understood, and because some springs are hot spots for novel, uncultivated organisms, or so-called “microbial dark matter”.

To understand how individual microorganisms operate as part of high temperature ecosystems, Hedlund and his team employ an integrated approach, including thermodynamic modeling, ecosystem activity measurements, microbial cultivation and systematics, and genomics. The newest and most exciting work uses cutting-edge technology to study “microbial dark matter” organisms by using single-cell genomics and stable isotope probing. This research will allow us to better understand the foundations of life in geothermal systems, uncover the functions of enigmatic major lineages of microorganisms, and expand our knowledge of the diversity of life on Earth.

Hedlund also collaborates with industrial and academic partners on a wide variety of projects, including those focused on the development of disease diagnostics and prophylactic drugs, understanding the human microbiome, and developing biofuels technologies. 

Hedlund's research is well funded, with major funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Hedlund is principal investigator on the Tengchong PIRE project, which is the largest international effort centering on life in terrestrial geothermal fields. He is an editor for Bergey's Manual of Systematics of Archaea and Bacteria, the definitive source on microbial taxonomy, and regularly serves on grant review panels for national and international funding agencies.


  • Ph.D., Microbiology, University of Washington
  • B.S., Biology, University of Illinois

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Brian Hedlund In The News

KSNV-TV: News 3
March 20, 2020
The coronavirus has changed the way society functions, and in turn, many people are spending a lot of time at home. By doing so, they're both staying away from people who might have unwanted germs and are keeping themselves from spreading unwanted germs.
March 16, 2020
But disinfecting chips or even using disposable chips can only go so far since so many people touch them daily or even hourly.
Las Vegas Review Journal
March 13, 2020
Clay Dubois, the owner of Elite Chip Care, used to get one, maybe two inquiries from casino companies in a week.
February 14, 2020
Want to lose some weight? Opt for low carb and high protein diet! This is the go-to suggestion every second person advises. But did you know this may lead to alleviation of hospital-acquired infections? A recent study says so.

Articles Featuring Brian Hedlund

Representatives from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians wrap UNLV Marta Meana in a blanket as part of the tribe's gift announcement to the university.
Campus NewsMarch 5, 2020
A collection of news stories from February highlighting the people and research of UNLV.
chalk drawing of human body with intestinal tract
ResearchFebruary 12, 2020
New UNLV study shows promise for role of a high-carb, low-protein, and low-fat diet in fighting off C. diff infections.
UNLV graduate in cap and gown in crowd
Campus NewsDecember 31, 2018
A collection of stories highlighting UNLV students and faculty who made the news in 2018.
Brian Hedlund sampling water in a spring.
Campus NewsNovember 1, 2017
UNLV Prof. Brian Hedlund is studying microorganisms in a Nevada hot spring; the results could help evaluate whether extraterrestrial life exists.