Laura Hug

Laura Hug
Associate Professor, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Microbiology
Location: B1 274A
Phone: 519-888-4567 x31151


Research in the Hug lab seeks to define microbial diversity and function at contaminated sites (primarily municipal landfills). To that end, our lab sequences the total DNA, RNA, and protein (meta-omics) of a microbial community from a contaminated site to identify which species are there, and which pathways are active. We use enrichment culturing to explore microbial community interactions and to develop new bioremediation tools. The combination of genome-enabled metabolic modelling with tracking contaminant degradation in the laboratory clarifies how microbes are shaping the environment.

Beyond developing tools for environment remediation, the Hug lab examines essential questions in biology – how do organisms adapt to the harsh conditions at contaminated sites? How and when did the ability to degrade a man-made product evolve? In what ways are microbial communities more than the sum of their parts, and do these interactions drive global cycles?

Her research expands our understanding of the tree of life, while simultaneously developing solutions to address the impacts of human activities on the environment.

Research Interests

  • Microbial diversity and function
  • Contaminated site microbial ecology
  • Total community (meta-omic) analyses, including metagenomics (DNA), metatranscriptomics (RNA), and proteomics (proteins)
  • Bioremediation
  • Contamination & Remediation: Water, Soil, Air
  • Bioinformatics, Systematics and Evolution
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Increasingly Complex Water Challenges
  • Protection of Surface and Groundwater Resources
  • Microbiology


  • 2012 Ph.D. Cell and Systems Biology, University of Toronto, Canada
  • 2007 M.Sc. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University, Canada
  • 2005 B.Sc. Molecular Biology and Genetics, University of Guelph, Canada


  • 2019 Canada Research Chair in Environmental Microbiology
  • 2015 Kavli Fellow, National Academy of Sciences
  • 2013 Post-Doctoral Fellowship, NSERC
  • 2012 Outstanding Student Poster, American Society for Microbiology General Meeting
  • 2011 Doctoral Completion Award, University of Toronto
  • 2010 Yoshio Masui Prize in Molecular Biology, University of Toronto
  • 2009 Canada Graduate Scholarship D Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement, NSERC
  • 2008 Governor General’s Gold Medal, Dalhousie University
  • 2007 Helen Sawyer Hogg Graduate Admission Award, University of Toronto
  • 2007 Mary H. Beatty Fellowship, University of Toronto
  • 2007 University of Toronto Fellowship, University of Toronto
  • 2007 Canada Graduate Scholarship D, NSERC
  • 2005 Postgraduate Scholarship M, NSERC
  • 2005 Honourary Pre-Doctoral Scholarship, Killam Foundation


  • Waterloo Centre for Microbial Research (Associate Director)
  • Reviewer for Nature, The ISME Journal, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Environmental Microbiology, BMC Genomics, Microbiome, Bioinformatics, Environmental Science and Technology, FEMS Microbiology Ecology, Frontiers in Environmental Science, Biodegradation, and PLoS ONE (ad hoc)

Professional Associations

  • American Society for Microbiology
  • International Society for Microbial Ecology

Affiliations and Volunteer Work

  • Canadian Society for Microbiologists Section Chair
  • Waterloo Centre for Microbial Research (Associate Director)


  • BIOL 346 - Microbial Ecology and Diversity
    • Taught in 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024
  • BIOL 645 - Recent Advances in Microbial Ecology
    • Taught in 2020, 2022

* Only courses taught in the past 5 years are displayed.

Selected/Recent Publications

In The News