I study the ecological processes carried out by marine bacteria and other microbes. The ubiquity, diversity, and small size of marine microbes make them difficult to study with traditional ecological methods. By combining molecular techniques, physiological assays, biogeochemical observations, and modeling approaches however, it is possible to understand marine microbes sufficiently to predict the impact of environmental change on microbial ecosystem function.
My group has a particular (but not exclusive!) interest in microbial processes at high latitudes. Because of the strong seasonal cycle at high latitudes marine ecosystems in the Arctic and Antarctic are particularly dynamic, with robust biological responses to changing environmental conditions. These environments are also among those most impacted by changing climate, making them ideal natural laboratories for studying how ecosystems respond to environmental change. The dark, ice-covered polar oceans are also good proxies for ice-covered oceans on other worlds. We work with planetary scientists to extend our understanding of microbial ecosystems in dark polar oceans to the ice-covered oceans of Europa, Enceledus, and other potentially habitable worlds.