- Assistant Professor, Department of Geophysical Sciences, and the Committee on Microbiology
Ph.D. MIT & Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2010
A.B. Dartmouth College, 2001
Microbes are the metabolic engines that drive global biogeochemical cycles and were the sole inhabitants of the Earth for more than half its history; the chemical environment of Earth’s surface today is inexplicable without an understanding of its progressive modification by microbial activity. Of particular interest to us are microbially-dominated aquatic ecosystems, such as the vast surface layers of the ocean where nearly half of global photosynthesis occurs. We seek to understand how these microbial communities function and respond to environmental perturbations, and how they have adapted to the unique pressures of living in these in these habitats. To do this, we use a combination of field- and culture-based approaches. In the field, we make in situ measurements of microbial abundance and activity, particularly focusing on spatial and temporal patterns of gene expression. In the lab, we conduct physiological experiments with cultivated isolates of keystone species -- notably Prochlorococcus, a marine cyanobacterium that is the most abundant oxygenic photoautotroph on Earth. We take a systems approach to understanding physiology, metabolism and gene regulation in these organisms. One of our principal analytical tools is mass spectrometry-based proteomics, and my laboratory houses a high-resolution mass spectrometry facility dedicated to microbial science.