James Max

James Max





  • Geochemistry


Research Interests: Geomicrobiology of cave environments

Current Research Projects: I study how microbial communities within caves may affect the secondary speleogenesis of passages. My project has been studying the unique microbiome within swiftlet guano in caves in Borneo, which has a unique chemical and nutrient composition that microbes may be utilizing for metabolism, generating nitric and phosphoric acid byproducts, which have not been researched as explanations for cave passage enlargement in the way that carbonic or sulfuric acids have been studied in cave research previously. I’ve also been studying the ways that the microbial processes that catabolize the crystalline structure of the swiftlet’s guano may be co-opted to catabolize polyamides and similar chemical polymers, which are used in the manufacturing of caving ropes, as well as various products like Kevlar, tires, and many textiles.  My research explores the connections between wider tropical karst ecosystems, their microbial communities, secondary speleogenesis, and polymer biodegradation.

Affiliation: National Speleological Society (NSS)

Affiliation Website:

Affiliation 2: Alberta Speleological Society (ASS)

Affiliation Website 2:

Education: Undergraduate:  BS, The University of Alberta, 2014