Meet the Ocean EcoSystems Biology (OEB) Unit:

Unit Director and Scientists

Current Lab Members



Former Members

Many individuals were trained in the former EOE-N Unit. The list here reflects individuals trained in the Worden Lab (from 2004 to present) and the broader OEB Unit from 2019 on.


Charles Bachy
Postdoctoral Researcher 2019-2022

Dr. Charles Bachy returned to the Worden Lab, this time at GEOMAR, after his Marie Curie Fellowship in Roscoff, FR. In rejoining the Worden Lab, he continued research on host-virus interactions, as well being first author on two major reviews, a book chapter in "The Marine Microbiome 2nd Ed." and "The Land–Sea Connection: Insights Into the Plant Lineage from a Green Algal Perspective" published in the Annual Review of Plant Biology. Charles is enjoying his new position at the RCC in FR, continuing to contribute to plankton research and working to upholding his reputation as the biggest pastry eater on the team.


Bente Gardeler
Technician 2010-2021

More information coming.


Maria Hamilton
PhD Student 2015-2021

Dr. Maria Hamilton started her PhD in the Worden Lab after graduating from the University of Washington with her BS in Microbiology. She came already acquainted with the tiny green wonders that are phytoplankton via her undergraduate research with Dr. Virginia Armbrust. During her PhD, Maria was primarily focused on polar green algae, including the green alga Micromonas polaris. She participated in many Worden Lab cruises and even conducted deep-sea incubation experiments to understand the viability of phytoplankton transportedin deep ocean currents. Maria won a prestigious NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined) and is now a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Dr. Mary Ann Moran (University of Georgia).

Jessica Eberle
Master's Student 2020-2021

More information coming.

Dr. Elisabeth Hehenberger
Postdoctoral Researcher 2017-2021

Dr. Elisabeth Hehenberger joined the Worden Lab at MBARI in 2017, moving from the Keeling Lab (UBC), and then moved to GEOMAR in January 2019 when the Lab relocated. She works now as a group leader supported by the Lumina Quaeruntur Award at the Institute of Parasitology of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Budweis, Czech Republic. She is investigating two important evolutionary transitions, employing bioinformatic tools and using dinoflagellates as model organisms - the evolution of plastid endosymbiosis and the transition from free-living to parasitic lifestyle.

Dr. Sebastian Sudek
Research Technician/Research Specialist 2009-2021

Dr. Sebastian Sudek came to the Worden Lab in 2009 after his Ph.D. on Biosynthesis of secondary metabolites in marine bacteria at SIO/UCSD and a postdoctoral researcher position at Scripps Research Institute in Structural Biology. Sebastian initial worked in support of other lab members, and expanded into his own research projects, publishing on cyanobacterial diversity in 2015. He participated in many other publications and was often Chief Scientist on our research expeditions. He continued as a Research Specialist at MBARI after Alex’s group moved.

Lisa Sudek
Technician 2013-2020

Dr. Lisa Sudek performed her Ph.D. at SIO/UCSD and joined the Worden Lab at MBARI several years later. Lisa worked with Alex on developing genetics in Micromonas – a collaboration with the Ares Lab at UCSC. Lisa also supported in many other projects in the lab and played key roles in the photobioreactor experiments conducted over the last 8 years or so. Among other co-authorships, Lisa is a co-first author on the highly-cited 2020 Nature Methods publication “Genetic tool development in marine protists: emerging model organisms for experimental cell biology.” Lisa is now a Research Specialist in the lab of Prof. Susan Carpenter at UCSC.

Rachel Harbeitner-Clark
PhD Student 2014-2020

Dr. Rachel Harbeitner-Clark came to the Worden Lab at UCSC/MBARI to start her Ph.D. in 2014 and defended in 2019. Her prior experiences were in the laboratories of Mya Breitbart (USF) and the Hahn Lab (WHOI). Rachel worked with Alex in deploying our Deep Sea Sediment Injector Cores with labelled substrates. She also was a leader on the lab’s deep sea “Bird Bag” experiments where we incubated deep sea water in situ with labelled substrates. Her thesis tackled several areas of deep sea microbiology focusing on the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon in collaborations with the Orphan Lab (CalTech). Rachel has been highly active in STEM outreach and has won both prestigious graduate student fellowships and speaking competitions. After a brief wrap up postdoctoral research position in the Worden Lab at GEOMAR Rachel moved to biotech back in sunny California.

Marco Scotti
PI food web modelling 2014-2020

Marco joined GEOMAR in 2014 and was PI on food web modelling. He studied the functional role of biodiversity in coastal waters through the lenses of trophic networks. With OEB's creation in early 2019, he continued several lines of research and joined in to lead computational network analysis of protist-microbe cell-to-cell interactions, alongside study lead Camille Poirier and co-authors. Marco moved to the Evolutionary Biology Unit in 2020 where he acts as PI ecosystem modelling.

Camille Poirier
Technician and Support Scientist 2013-2020

Camille joined the Worden Lab after her MS degree at the Station Biologique du Roscoff. Much of Camille’s research focused on field work – examining the distributions and interactions between different microbes – from viruses to protists. Camille worked in coastal Peru, the Indian Ocean, the N. Atlantic, the Caribbean and N. Pacific. She coauthored multiple publications and contributed significantly to the overall support, productivity and spirit of the lab. After working in the group on two continents (MBARI/GEOMAR) Camille is exploring other avenues for contributing to health of the environment.

Birte Matthiessen
Staff Scientist 2012-2020

Dr. Matthiessen was a PI in the DFG Priority program DynaTrait project and pursued eco-evolutionary questions on marine phytoplankton. Dr. Matthiessen moved to GEOMAR’s Benthic Ecology Group in July 2020.

Giannina Hattich
PhD Student 2015-2017, Postdoc 2018-2020

Giannina joined the Unit in 2015 after her MS at the University of Aberdeen. She performed her PhD with Dr. Birte Matthiessen – during which she studied phytoplankton eco-evolutionary dynamics. She focused on experimental approaches for disentangling and quantifying the roles of ecological and evolutionary dynamics on the functioning of phytoplankton. Giannina also collaborated with Dr. Lynn Govaert, aiming to unify experimental and theoretical approaches. She remained with Dr. Matthiessen as a Postdoctoral Researcher before starting a new Postdoc at Åbo Akademi University in Finland.

Lei Chen
Visiting Postdoc 2018-2019

Dr. Lei Chen earned a DAAD/CSC-funded  fellowship to work with Dr. Helena Hauss for one year in 2018/19. She participated in the analyses of the 2019 Gran Canaria KOSMOS experiments as well as in evaluating the role of microzooplankton in the Peruvian Upwelling, combining microscopic counts and protozoan metagenomics. She moved on to a researcher position at the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Institute of Oceanology, Qingdao).

Kenneth Hoadley
MBARI Postdoc. Fellow 2016-2018, Postdoc 2018-2019

Kenny performed his PhD from the University of Delaware with Prof. Mark Warner - where he studied coral symbionts (Symbiodinaceae). In 2016, he joined the Worden lab (MBARI/GEOMAR) where he utilized advanced culturing techniques and proteomic analyses to understand the molecular underpinnings of green algal (Micromonas) responses to nutrient limitation and ocean acidification. He also worked near the Caribbean Island of Curacao to quantify selective microbial grazing by corals. Kenny joined the University of Alabama's Biology Dept. as an Assistant Professor in fall 2019.

Cheuk-Man (Charmaine) Yung
Postdoctoral Researcher 2016-2019

Charmaine joined the Worden Lab after her PhD at Duke University under the supervision of Prof. Dana Hunt – where she studied thermal adaptation in marine bacteria. In the Worden Lab (MBARI/GEOMAR), she focused on the interactions between diatoms and bacteria using single-cell metagenomics. She also collaborated with the John Lab at USC - investigating the interactive effects between iron limitation and viral infection on Ostreococcus lucimarinus – an important marine photosynthetic picoeukaryote. In summer 2019 she became an Assistant Professor at the Hong Kong University of Science&Technology.

Chang Jae Choi
Postdoctoral Researcher 2014-2019

Dr. Choi joined the Worden lab after completing his Ph.D. in phytoplankton ecology at the University of Wisconsin where he studied molecular aspects of phytoplankton cell mortality, followed by a postdoc at WHOI on the same topic. In the Worden Lab (MBARI/GEOMAR) Chang Jae studied phytoplankton diversity and time-series analyses. He served as co-first author on our report of the discovery of two novel plastid-bearing lineages (Choi, Bachy et al. Current Biology 2017), among multiple other contributions. Chang Jae became a Research Professor at the UT Marine Science Institute in May 2019.

For other Worden lab alumni please visit