Postdoc Research Associate
Postdoc Research Associate


Swatantar Kumar plays an integral role in two projects associated with PNNL’s Subsurface Biogeochemical Research Scientific Focus Area (SBR SFA) and rhizosphere nutrient cycling. In the framework of SBR SFA, Kumar is part of the team that’s teasing out the underlying molecular mechanisms of organic carbon decomposition and sequestration in freshwater ecosystems (aquatic priming). Using ultrahigh-resolution stable isotope assisted metabolomics and transcriptomics approaches, they intend to get more insight into the hyporheic ecosystem functioning, providing an opportunity to inform watershed models.

In the rhizosphere project, the team is investigating how root activity and microbes can modify the chemistry of rhizosphere and alter phosphorus availability on a micrometer- to millimeter-scale with temporal variability.

Research Interest

  • Anaerobic microbiology
  • Biogeochemical cycling of C, N, P, and S.


  • PhD in Freshwater Microbial Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany and Friedrich Schiller University, 2018
  • M Tech in Biotechnology, Maharishi Markandeshwar University, 2011
  • M Sc in Biochemistry, Rajasthan University, 2008

Awards and Recognitions

  • LIFE Fellowship, Jena School of Microbial Communication at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena (2017)
  • Biogeochemistry Fellowship, Max Planck Institute (2017)
  • Fellowship, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena (2017)



  • Knelman JE, SK Schmidt, VA Garayburu-Caruso, S Kumar, and EB Graham. 2019. "Multiple, compounding disturbances in a forest ecosystem: Fire increases susceptibility of Soil Edaphic Properties, Bacterial Community Structure, and Function to Change with Extreme Precipitation Event." Soil Systems 3, no. 2:40. PNNL-SA-144296. doi:10.3390/soilsystems3020040