Terrence H. Bell, Assistant Professor
Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences
​University of Toronto, Scarborough

E-mail: terrence.bell@utoronto.ca; Phone: 416-287-7221


The microbiome is the collection of all microorganisms that inhabit an environment.

Our lab applies a variety of techniques, including high-throughput sequencing approaches, to understand how the manipulation of environmental microbiomes affects soil function and plant growth.

In particular, we are interested in:

  • The impacts of unintentional human modification of microbiomes on the function of agricultural and ecological systems.
  • The extent to which microbiomes can be purposefully modified in different biotic and abiotic contexts.
  • The constraints and flexibility of niche breadth across microbial types.


Recent News

April 2024: Congratulations to Kailey Hopkins for winning an NSERC USRA award! We look forward to welcoming Kailey to the lab in May.

April 2024: Congratulations to Hooman for winning a University of Toronto Excellence Award!

April 2024: Javad won an award for the Most Comprehensive Presentation at Postdoc Palooza at UTSC. Congrats Javad!

March 2024: Sarah Richards recently published work that she pushed through to complete at the height of Covid, with mostly remote lab training. Her paper reports on an experimental system for capturing bacteria that can colonize both soil and water habitats. Congratulations Sarah!

February 2024: Haider Alsafar recently joined our lab as a Master’s student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program. Welcome Haider!

January 2024: Congratulations to Javad for winning a UTSC Postdoctoral Fellowship!

January 2024: Congratulations to Sarah Richards for winning a Graduate Student International Research Award!

January 2024: Congratulations to Suzanne Fleishman who just started a faculty position at Penn State University!

January 2024: Welcome to Javad Sadeghi who joined us this month as a postdoc!

January 2024: Congratulations to Will King who just started a faculty position at the University of Southampton!

October 2023: Congratulations to Lily Cao, who just passed her M.S. defense at Penn State!

September 2023: So excited for Will King, who will be starting his own lab as an Assistant Professor at the University of Southampton in the UK. Congratulations Will!!

September 2023: Congratulations to Harlow Wood on passing his MEnvSc defense!

September 2023: I am happy to be taking on a position as Senior Editor at ISME Communications. Thanks to the Editorial Team for the opportunity!

September 2023: The lab grew this month. Starting in September are Greyson Winnecke (BIOD98 student), Kara Reardon (first UTSC PhD student!), and Andrew Blakney (first UTSC postdoc!). Welcome all!

September 2023: We have received funding through Genome Canada’s Climate-Smart Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative! This project is led by George DiCenzo (Queen’s University) and Ivan Oresnik (University of Manitoba). I will lead one of the project Activities, with others led by George, Ivan, Olivia Wilkins, Matthew Bakker, and Derek Brewin (all at U Manitoba) and we will be collaborating with a number of other amazing researchers and partners from across Canada.

September 2023: Will just published a paper in Plant, Cell & Environment (co-authored by others in the group), using a meta-omics approach to understand microorganisms and metabolites across root orders. Congrats Will!

September 2023: Sarah Richards won the ‘Non-conformist Award’ from the One Health Microbiome Center at Penn State. Congratulations Sarah!

August 2023: Our lab has received funding through the NSERC Discovery program!

July 2023: Our lab has received funding through an NSERC Alliance International grant, allowing us to collaborate on a USDA-funded project in Kevin Hockett’s group at Penn State. We will be hiring a postdoc for this project in the coming months.

May 2023: Congratulations to Dr. Caylon Yates on a successful thesis defense! Caylon will next be working with the exciting new startup company, Funga, using soil fungi to improve forest outcomes.

May 2023: Congratulations to Sarah Richards for winning a USDA Predoctoral Fellowship! This fellowship supports her stipend, research, and professional development for the next 3 years.

May 2023: Congratulations to Sarah Richards on a successful comprehensive exam!

May 2023: Congratulations to Dr. Jeremy Sutherland on a successful thesis defense! Jeremy will next work as a visiting scientist at Hosei University through an award from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and as a postdoctoral associate with Liana Burghardt’s group at Penn State.

April 2023: Congratulations to Lily Cao who received 2nd place in the oral presentation competition at the ECMSS Symposium!

April 2023: Congratulations to Rachel Ye who received a University of Toronto Excellence Award. Rachel will be doing research with our lab this summer. Welcome Rachel!

April 2023: Congratulations to Sabrina Percy for receiving an NSERC USRA. Sabrina will be doing research with our lab this summer. Welcome Sabrina!

April 2023: Congratulations to Hooman Ahmadpanah for receiving a CRESS Summer Research Award. Hooman will be doing research with our lab this summer. Welcome Hooman!

March 2023: Kara Reardon will be joining the lab in September as our first UTSC PhD student. Welcome Kara!!

February 2023: Congrats to Caylon for winning the Alumni Dissertation Award! That’s now two years in a row that someone in our group has won this prestigious award.

January 2023: Congrats to Will and others in the lab for a new paper in Environmental Microbiome, showing that microbiome rediversification in soils can restore certain soil functions.

January 2023: Welcome Harlow Wood! Harlow is a M.Env.Sc student and our first UTSC lab member.

November 2022: Congratulations to Dr. Laura Kaminsky for an outstanding thesis and defense! The longest standing member of our group is moving on to a postdoc at the Boyce Thompson Institute with Dr. Maria Harrison’s group.

October 2022: Suzanne Fleishman published an important perspective on the varied methods used to assess rhizosphere microbiomes in Environmental MicrobiomeCongrats Suzanne!

September 2022: Sarah Richards earned 2nd in the poster competition at the International Phytobiomes Conference in Denver. Congrats Sarah!

September 2022: Caylon just published an exciting paper in Functional Ecology, showing differences in bacterial adaptation in new soils based on taxon and soil type. Congrats Caylon!

August 2022: Sarah and Suzanne received travel grants from the International Phytobiomes Conference. Congrats Sarah and Suzanne!

August 2022: Laura’s latest paper, published in Applied Soil Ecology, validates a new primer set for Priestia megaterium and shows the unpredictable survival of commercial products across soil types. Link here. Congrats Laura!

July 2022: Congrats to Will for winning an oral presentation award at the International Symposium on Physiological Processes in Roots of Woody Plants! Although Will is now at Cornell, he was presenting our EMSL-funded work on metabolite production across root orders and tree species.

June 2022: Welcome to Hanh Tran! Hanh will be joining our group as a research technologist through December and is co-supervised by Emily Davenport.

June 2022: Jeremy published his first article in Molecular Ecology. Congratulations Jeremy!

June 2022: Congrats to Ryan for winning a poster award at the Changing Microbiomes Symposium!

May 2022: Congrats to Laura for receiving an ISME travel grant!

April 2022: Will just published an article on active microbial dispersal in ISME Communications. Congratulations Will!

March 2022: Will has started a new position in the School of Integrative Plant Sciences at Cornell University. Congratulations Will!

March 2022: Miranda passed her MS defense for the Ecology program. Congratulations Miranda!

February 2022: Congratulations to Laura for winning the university-level dissertation award! Huge achievement!!