Alongside his research adviser Dr. Rick Colwell, Brandon Briggs studied life in the vicinity of gas hydrates. Gas hydrates, ice-like structures containing methane gas, have grabbed the interest of the U.S. Department of Energy for their potential use as an energy source. However, the impact the release of these methane stores will have on the greenhouse effect remains to be determined. Briggs is examining core samples from Hydrate Ridge off the coast of Newport, Oregon, as well as from Canada’s Vancouver Island and India’s Bay of Bengal. From these samples he is determining microbial distribution using DNA analysis and studying the biochemical pathways of the microbes living in and around hydrates. Briggs is especially interested in the balance between microbes that are methane makers and methane users, as the latter may provide a buffer for the release of this greenhouse gas. Briggs has identified microbes living in biofilms and feeding on methane buried 60 feet deep in Indian Ocean sediments.