Prof. Dr. Alexandra Z. Worden

Professor of Ocean EcoSystems Biology

Research Division: Marine Ecology


Room: DW - 230
Phone: +49 431 600-4400
E-Mail: azworden(at)

GEOMAR | Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
Duesternbrooker Weg 20
24105 Kiel, Germany

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology
August-Thienemann-Str. 2
24306 Plön, Germany

Worden Lab Facebook



    Prof. Worden earned a B.A. in History from Wellesley College, while also studying in the Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences Department at M.I.T. She remained at M.I.T. for two years as a research technician after her undergraduate studies. She then moved to the University of Georgia, where she received a NASA Earth Systems Science Fellowship (1996-1999) and completed her Ph.D. in Ecology in 2000.

    Prof. Worden then went on to conduct research on microbial interactions at Scripps Institution of Oceanography as an NSF Microbial Biology Postdoctoral Fellow, before accepting an Assistant Professorship at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami. In 2007 she joined the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), where she led a microbial ecology research and technology development group until moving to GEOMAR. Her graduate students at MBARI attend the University of California Santa Cruz, where she is Adjunct Professor in the Ocean Sciences Department.

    Prof. Worden’s research focuses on regulation of photoautotrophic microbes with an emphasis on carbon cycling in marine systems. This includes studies on the basic biology of eukaryotic microbes and how such studies can inform us about the evolution of eukaryotes, including land plants. Her research also has a significant emphasis on microbe-microbe interactions and viruses. Her group develops and implements methods and technologies for sea-going oceanography, including innovations in genomic, metagenomic and transcriptomic approaches. Prof. Worden is a Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation Marine Investigator and a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.


    • 2000: Ph.D. in Ecology from the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia
    • 1992: B.A. in History, Wellesley College
      Concentration in Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Professional Experience

    • 2019 - present: Professor and Head of Ocean Ecosystems Biology research unit, GEOMAR, Kiel, Germany
    • 2015 - present: Senior Scientist, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), California, USA
    • 2015 - present: Professor Adjunct (full academic privleges), University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), California, USA
    • 2011 - 2015: Scientist III, MBARI, California, USA
    • 2011 - 2015: Associate Professor Adjunct, Ocean Sciences Department, UCSC, California, USA
    • 2007- 2010: Scientist II, MBARI, California, USA
    • 2007 - 2010: Assistant Professor Adjunct, Ocean Sciences Department, UCSC, California, USA
    • 2004 - 2007: Assistant Professor, Marine Biology and Fisheries Division in the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) at the University of Miami (UM), USA
    • 2004: Visiting Scientist, Station Biologique Roscoff, France
    • 2000 - 2003: NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, California, USA
    • 1993 - 1994: Research Technician, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
    • 1992 - 1994: Teaching Fellow, Harvard University and HU Extension School, Massachusetts, USA

    Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

    • 2016: Elected Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology
    • 2015 - 2016: Fellow, Marine and Climate Research, Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg, DE
    • 2013 - present: Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Investigator in Marine Microbiology
    • 2011 - 2017: Senior Fellow, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Integrated Microbial Biodiversity Program
    • 2009 - 2010: Scholar, CIFAR Integrated Microbial Biodiversity Program
    • 2009: Van Neil Lecturer, Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University
    • 2004 - 2008: Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Young Investigator in Marine Microbiology
    • 2003: AAAS Women's International Science Collaboration Award
    • 2000 - 2002: NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Microbial Biology
    • 1996 - 1999: NASA Earth Systems Science Graduate Student Fellowship
    • 1996 - 1999: Regents Award, University of Georgia
    • 1988: Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Award

    Memberships and Services

    Professional Memberships:

    • American Academy of Microbiology 
    • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 
    • American Geophysical Union (AGU) 
    • American Society of Microbiology (ASM) 
    • Association for the Sciences of Limnology & Oceanography (ASLO) 
    • International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME) 
    • Phycological Society of America (PSA)
    Community Services:

    • 2017 – 2018: Organizing Committee for International Society of Photosynthesis Research meeting (2018)
    • 2016 – 2017: American Society for Microbiology General Meeting Program Committee
    • 2016 – 2017: Scientific Committee, 2017 Symposium on Aquatic Microbial Ecology (SAME) 2015 – 2017: Scientific Advisory Board, 16th Congress of the International Union of Microbiological Societies
    • 2015 – present: Advisory Council, International Consortium for a Unified Taxonomy of Eukaryotes (UniEuk) 
    • 2015 – present: Editorial Board, Protist 2015: Session Co-chair w/graduate student V. Jimenez and postdoc S. Wilken, ASLO Aquatic Sciences Meeting, Granada, Spain 
    • 2014: Session Co-chair w/postdoc C Bachy, ASLO/AGU Ocean Sciences Meeting, Honolulu, Hawaii 
    • 2013 – 2017: Senior Editor, The ISME Journal, Nature Publishing 
    • 2012: Plenary Session Chair, 112th American Society of Microbiology General Meeting, ‘Biogeochemical Cycles: Past, Present, Future’ 
    • 2011 – present: Scientific Advisory Committee, ENIGMA Project, a multi-institutional consortium funded by the US Department of Energy, managed by Berkeley National Laboratory 
    • 2011 – 2014: Scientific Planning Committee, 2014 Joint Aquatic Science Meeting ASLO/PSA/WSA/SFS
    • 2011: General Meeting Planning Committee, 112th American Society of Microbiology Meeting 
    • 2011: Session Co-chair, 111th American Society of Microbiology General Meeting 
    • 2011: Award Nominating Committee, International Society for Microbiology 
    • 2011: Invited Session Chair, 20th Western Photosynthesis Conference. Asilomar, California 
    • 2010 – 2015: Scientific Advisory Committee, DOE Joint Genome Institute 
    • 2010 – 2014: Elected Board Member, International Society for Microbial Ecology 
    • 2010 – 2013: D.C. White Award Nominating Committee, American Society of Microbiology 
    • 2010 – 2013: Editorial Board, The ISME Journal, Nature Publishing 
    • 2010: Workshop Co-chair, Eukaryotic Genome Annotation Workshop, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Halifax, Canada 
    • 2010: Session Co-chair w/postdoc E. Demir-Hilton, ASLO/AGU Ocean Sciences Meeting, Portland, OR 
    • 2010: Invited Participant, Microbiological Targets for Ocean Observing Laboratories (Micro-TOOLs)
    • 2010 Workshop, Moore Foundation, Palo Alto, CA
    • 2010: Colloquium Advisory Committee, American Society of Microbiology 
    • 2009 – 2011: Scientific Steering Committee, American Academy of Microbiology Colloquium on Climate Change 
    • 2009: Invited Participant, American Academy of Microbiology Colloquium on the Rare Biosphere, San Francisco, CA 
    • 2009: Session Co-Chair, ASLO Aquatic Sciences Meeting, Nice, France (w/former postdoc F. Not). 
    • 2008: Invited Participant, National Academies Keck Future Initiatives Conference on Complex Systems, Newport Beach, CA 
    • 2008: Invited Participant, US DOE Genomes to Life Roadmap Knowledgebase development workshop, Bethesda, MD 
    • 2008: Member, Review Committee for DoE review of the Joint Genome Institute 
    • 2008: Invited Participant, US Department of Energy (DOE) Carbon Cycling Workshop, Denver, CO 
    • 2007 – 2011: Scientific Advisory Board, Integrated Microbial Genomics-Educational site 
    • 2006 – 2007: Scientific Committee, Metagenomics 2007, San Diego, CA 
    • 2004 – 2006: Elected Co-Chair, Gordon Research Conference Series: Marine Microbes 
    • 2006 – 2012: Scientific Advisory Board, Community Cyberinfrastructure for Advanced Marine Microbial Ecology Research and Analysis (CAMERA) 
    • 2006: Session Co-Chair, Linking Ecology and Diversity of Aquatic Protists: Advances and Methodologies, ASLO/AGU Ocean Sciences Mtg. Honolulu, HI (w/postdoc F. Not) 
    • 2005: Invited Participant, International Census of Marine Microbes Informatics and Data Management Working Group, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 
    • 2005: Session Co-Chair, Ecology of Aquatic Pathogens in a Changing Environment, ASLO Summer Meeting, Spain 
    • 2005: Invited Panelist, Women in Science Symposium, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Miami, FL 
    • 2005: Invited Participant, International Census of Marine Microbes Open Oceans and Coastal Systems Workshop, Honolulu, HI 
    • 2004: Invited Participant, Horizontal Gene Flow in Microbial Communities; Sponsored by NSF & DOE, Airlie, VA.


    Publications of the Ocean EcoSystems Biology research unit (pdf)

    Earlier publications of the Experimental Ecology - Marine Food Webs (2004-2018)