I am a marine microbial ecologist, with training in microbiology and molecular techniques. In the surface ocean, heterotrophic bacteria interact over a shared pool of resources generated by phytoplankton, culminating in one of the largest fluxes of carbon on Earth. My research has focused on heterotrophic bacteria occupying the phycosphere, the region directly surrounding a phytoplankton cell enriched in dissolved organic matter.
In the Orphan lab, my focus will shift from living phytoplankton in spatially unstructured ecosystems, to organic particles generated by phytoplankton, creating a spatially structured microenvironment. Particles, or phytoplankton aggregates, generated in the surface ocean are colonized by heterotrophic bacteria, yet the mechanisms controlling the degradation or persistence of these particles through depth are not well understood. I will be using phytoplankton aggregates generated by diatoms as a model system to understand colonization dynamics of heterotrophic bacterial communities and how this relates to carbon turnover.