Staff Directory


Janelle Thompson

Associate Professor
Principal Investigator at SCELSE
Water Quality and Extremophile Biotechnology

Office Location: N2-01c-68

  • PhD (Joint Program in Biological Oceanography), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Civil and Environmental Engineering), and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Biology), USA (2005)
  • M.Sc. (Environmental Engineering and Science), Stanford University (1999)
  • B.Sc. (Biological Sciences), Stanford University (1998).


I am an environmental microbiologist and engineer in the Asian School of the Environment at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. I am also a principal investigator at the Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE). My lab works on topics in water quality and extremophile biotechnology. My research and teaching are driven by a desire to achieve a sustainable future through careful stewardship of energy and water resources. I have previously served as a principal investigator and associate director at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology and have taught in the Environmental Engineering program at MIT. My research is carried out through multidisciplinary collaborations, including undergraduate and graduate students.

Research Experience:

  • Nov 2019 - Present
  • Associate Professor, Asian School of the Environment, NTU
  • Sep 2016 – Mar. 2019
  • Associate Director for Outreach, Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology
  • July 2015 – Aug 2018
  • Resident Principal Investigator, Centre for Environmental Sensing and Modelling (CENSAM)
  • July 2007 – June 2015
  • Assistant Professor Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 2006-2007
  • Visiting Scientist, Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Thailand
  • Nov. 2005-June 2007
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School

Research Interests:

I am an ecologist, whose research focuses on the challenges and opportunities associated with conservation, management, and restoration of tropical forest landscapes. I am particularly interested in “the little things that run the world”, and my research focuses on the links between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, with a particular emphasis on linking invertebrate diversity and community interactions. Much of my research has focused on using dung beetles as model systems but I have worked on a range of taxa from dung beetles, moths and woodlice to hornbills and small mammals in both tropical (Malaysia, Philippines, Belize) and temperate (UK, Finland) environments. I am also interested in the development of policy and best practice in the oil palm industry and I am working with government agencies and NGOs engaged in land-use planning in Sabah, Malaysia.

For a full list of publications please click here

Selected Publications:


Boock, J. T.#, Freedman, A.J.E.#, Tompsett, G. A., Timko, M. T., Prather, K. L. J.*, Thompson, J. R. (2019) Engineered microbial biofuel production and recovery under supercritical carbon dioxide. (#equal contribution). Nature Communications 10: 587. DOI=10.1038/s41467-019-08486-6

Nshimiymana, J.P., Freedman, A.J.E., Shanahan, P., Chua, L.C.H. and Thompson, J.R.  (2017) Variation of bacterial communities with water quality in an urban tropical catchment. Environmental Science and Technology 51 (10), pp 5591–5601

Freedman, A.J.E, Tan, B. F., and Thompson, J. R. (2017) Microbial potential for carbon and nutrient cycling in a geogenic supercritical CO2 reservoir. Environmental Microbiology 19(6):2228-2245.

Tan, B.F., Ng, C., Nshimiymana, J.P., Loh, L.L., Gin, K. and Thompson, J.R.* (2015) Next-generation sequencing (NGS) for assessment of microbial water quality: current progress, challenges, and future opportunities. Frontiers in Microbiology 6:1027-. 

Thompson, J. R., Rivera, H., Closek, C., Medina, M. (2015) Microbes in the coral holobiont: partners through evolution, development and ecological interactions.  Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. 4:176-.

Peet, K.C., Freedman, A., Hernandez, H.H., Britto, V., Boreham, C., Ajo-Franklin, J. and Thompson, J.R. (2015) Microbial growth under supercritical CO2. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 81(8):2881-92.