Professor Southam received his BSc (Honours) and PhD in Microbiology from the University of Guelph. Following his post-doctoral education funded by Western Mining Corp., Australia, Southam accepted a faculty position in the Department of Biology and Centre for Environmental Sciences at Northern Arizona University. He joined the Departments of Earth Science and Biology at the University of Western Ontario when he was appointed Canada Research Chair in Geomicrobiology (2001-2011), and Director of the Centre for Environment and Sustainability (2010-2012). In 2012, Professor Southam joined the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Queensland as the Vale-UQ Geomicrobiology Chair.
Professor Southam is an interdisciplinary researcher who has crossed traditional boundaries between biological and geological sciences. His research takes fundamental geomicrobiology and translates this into applied settings, primarily in the minerals industry. Professor Southam is exerting his influence in the rapidly growing field of geomicrobiology, which deals with bacterial transformations of materials composing the earth’s crust, and the geological impact these transformations have had over geologic time, up to the present day.