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.

Juliana Nzongo
UCSC Graduate Student 2018

Juliana is pursuing her Ph.D. in the Department of Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology at UCSC. She performed an extended rotation in the Worden Lab to explore mixotrophic predation in algae. Her project involved collaborations with graduate students Maria Hamilton and Charlotte Eckmann, Worden Lab members in the UCSC Department of Ocean Sciences, and with Postdoc Charmaine Yung and Scientist Lisa Sudek. Juliana is working in the lab of Chad Saltikov (UCSC) for her Ph.D. thesis and is passionate about supporting diversity in the sciences and human health issues connected to microbiology.

Mohammad ‘Monir’ Moniruzzaman
Postdoctoral Researcher 2017–2018

Dr. Moniruzzaman joined the lab after his Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee under the supervision of Prof. Steven Wilhelm – where he studied giant viruses. In the Worden Lab he focused on the effects of diel light:dark cycles on the physiology of Micromonas pusilla – a broadly distributed marine photosynthetic picoeukaryote. He contributed analyses of photoreceptor phylogeny and diel transitions in the N. Pacific (Kolody et al. ISME J 2019) in our collaboration with the Allen Lab (SIO).  In autumn 2018 he moved to the lab of Prof. Frank Aylward at Virginia Tech to perform a second postdoc.

Eleanor (Ellie) Handler
Undergraduate Summer Intern 2017

Ellie joined the lab for the summer following her junior year at Yale. Utilizing a combination of photo-bioreactors and other methods, she characterized the photobiology and light acclimation strategies of arctic species of the green algal genus, Micromonas. She worked from the whole cell level down to the nitty gritty of electron transfer and will be a co-author on our new study of this organism. In the long term she plans to pursue a graduate program in Microbiology.

Yun-Chi Lin
Postdoctoral Fellow 2016-2017

Dr. Lin joined the lab for a 1 year fellowship sponsored by the Taiwanese Government in late summer 2016. Her research during this stay in the lab addresses how the core genome versus the so-called niche defining genes (those that are not shared with close relatives) operate in the environment – and over a strong environmental gradient. It has been great to have Yun-Chi back in the lab! In summer 2020 Yun Chi will become an Assistant Professor at the National University of Taiwan.

Susanne Wilken
Marie Curie Fellow and Postdoctoral Researcher 2013-2017

Dr. Wilken joined the Worden Lab after her Ph.D. at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology with Prof. Ellen van Donk. Susanne undertook a series of innovative experiments while in the lab – leading to greater understanding of the ecology and evolution of mixotrophic eukaryotes. She also co-authored a review on considering microbes from the three domains of life together (Worden et al. Science 2015) and a perspective on the importance of time-series for understanding future oceans (Worden & Wilken Science 2016). In March 2017 Susanne started an Assistant Professorship at the University of Amsterdam

Magdalena Gutowska
Postdoctoral Researcher 2014-2017

Dr. Gutowska completed her Ph.D. at the University of Kiel where she also performed a post-doctoral fellowship. She joined the Worden lab as an MBARI post-doctoral fellow from 2014 to 2016 and, after completing the fellowship, has been pursuing ocean policy at the Monterey Bay Aquarium while continuing to participate in several lab projects. Magda’s research has focused on thiamin cycling in the ocean with important discoveries on the usage of precursor molecules (Gutowska et al. 2017). Magda is pursuing her interests in translating science more effectively for use in ocean policy.

Alexander J. (AJ) Limardo
Technician and then Graduate Student 2011-2016

AJ joined the Worden Lab after undergraduate studies at the University of Georgia where he worked with Prof. Mary Ann Moran. AJ was a terrific team member and participated in numerous seagoing expeditions. AJ developed quantitative assays against newly identified open-ocean ecotypes of the prasinophyte Bathycoccus, a genus found from tropical to polar oceans. He co-authored an invited perspective in Nature with Alex, participated in Simmons et al. AEM 2016, and Limardo et al. EM 2017 on quantitative biogeography of prasinophyte algae. AJ received his M.S. in Fall 2016 and joined a stealth mode Bay Area Biotech Company.

Charles Bachy
Postdoctoral Researcher 2013 – 2016

Dr. Bachy joined the lab after completing a Ph.D. with Puri Lopez-Garcia and David Moreira in Paris. Here he performed multiple studies on the evolution and biology of prasinophytes – with two co-first author articles in Molecular Biology and Evolution and PNAS. He also co-authored a perspective on the Rare Biosphere with Alex in Current Biology and is co-author on a Nature Reviews Microbiology article on marine protists. Charles is wrapping up manuscripts on prasinophyte viruses and an exciting new method for estimating viral infection frequency. Charles received a Marie Curie for returning to France where he joined the lab of Fabrice Not.

Amy Zimmerman
Postdoctoral Researcher 2014–2016

Dr. Zimmerman joined the lab after completing her Ph.D. at UC Irvine. In addition to stellar teaching outreach projects and education Amy has been pursuing ecological interactions between viruses and their prasinophyte hosts. She co-authored a major review in Science with Alex, Susanne Wilken and others, that addresses interactions across the three domains of life in the context of the global carbon cycle and marine food webs. She has several manuscripts in preparation on Ostreococcus viruses. Amy is now a Research Scientist in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Chicago.

María Corrochano-Luque
Undergraduate Summer Intern 2016

María joined the lab as part of the MBARI summer intern program following her third year at the University of Seville in Spain. María’s project involved the investigation of potential phagotrophy under different light and nutrient conditions in a polar strain of the prasinophyte green alga, Micromonas.

Valeria Jimenez
Graduate Student 2010–2016

Dr. Jimenez joined the lab after her Master’s degree in Chile. She came to the lab on a Fulbright Scholarship and here participated in a wide range of studies – including at-sea growth experiments and culture based studies of growth and transcriptional responses in eukaryotic algae. She co-authored two articles in PNAS and one in Environmental Microbiology during her Ph.D. and has two first author manuscripts in preparation. Valeria planned to stay on for a mini-postdoc but received an exciting offer from the labs of Daniel Vaulot and Fabrice Not at Station Biologique de Roscoff. In addition to being a fantastic scientists and teammate Valeria joined the lab just before Alex went on maternity leave so provided lots of guidance there over the years!

Jian Guo
Postdoctoral Researcher 2013–2015

Jian also co-authored an article on the transcriptional/proteomic program of Micromonas pusilla (Waltman et al. PLoS One, 2016), a widespread prasinophyte alga. Her experiments on phytoplankton transitions to nutrient limitation include transcriptomic and proteomic responses to conditions that are predicted under future climate change scenarios (Guo et al. in prep.). Jian left the lab in early 2015 to rejoin her family in Canada and returned to Santa Cruz to work on a high risk project on developing a genetic system for marine algae in the lab of Prof. Manny Ares at UCSC in Winter 2015/2016. Jian is now staff scientist at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences.

Zena Jensvold
Undergraduate Summer Intern 2014

Zena came to under the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program for the summer after her  sophomore year at the University of Oregon. Zena’s project involved testing responses of the smallest free living eukaryote known to growth under low phosphate and nitrogen conditions, as well as investigating cellular quotas of C, N and P. Zena returned in autumn 2014 to participate in the MBARI CANON cruises. Zena returned to MBARI in autumn to participate in a Wordenlab/CANON cruise and then started her PhD at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery on the topic of Chromatin dynamics in cancer and gene expression.

Ashley Maitland
Undergraduate Summer Intern 2014

Ashley joined the MBARI intern program for the summer following her junior year at the University of Arizona where she has worked in the lab of Matt Sullivan. Ashley has been investigated the growth of Micromonas, a prasinophyte green alga that is broadly distributed in the world oceans – and its response to different nutrient conditions.

Marijke (Jeltje) van Baren
Bioinformatician 2010–2014

Dr. van Baren joined the lab after working in human, mouse, and fly genome annotation. Here she developed an evidence based set of criteria for creating and selecting best gene models and developed new model sets for two complete eukaryotic genomes. She also contributed to RNA-seq analyses in the lab and a variety of other projects. Jeltje is now working as an independent bioinformatics contractor.

Melinda P. Simmons
Graduate Student, UCSC 2007–2014

Melinda came to the lab after performing an MS at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a position at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation as part of the Marine Microbiology Initiative. Melinda’s research here focused on the ecology of picoeukaryotic green algae. Melinda is a co-author on the 2009 Science genome paper and one of her primary dissertation publications came out in Molecular Biology and Evolution in 2015. The latter shows that there is a polar-adapted Micromonas species with near perfect nucleotide identity present in the Arctic and Antarctic, but not in surface waters in lower latitudes. In collaboration with Post-doc Charles Bachy we also showed that this Micromonas (or its DNA) is present in the North Atlantic Deep Water, providing a connection between populations at the two poles. Melinda defended her Ph.D. thesis, entitled “Mamiellophyceae: phylogenetic and biogeographic insights” in June 2014. Her final paper explores the distribution of picophytoplankton in the eastern North Pacific, and through collaboration with post-doc Adam Monier, shows that two ecotypes of Bathycoccus exist (Simmons et al. Applied and Environmental Microbiology2016). Melinda joined the faculty of Jacksonville University in Fall 2016!

Darcy McRose
Summer Intern 2008, MS Student Stanford University 2009–2011, Research Assistant until Aug 2012

Darcy spent the summer after her senior year at Stanford University working on growth and photosynthetic activity of axenic strains from the different Micromonas clades as well as Ostreococcus. This beautiful piece of research involved a huge amount of work – for which she spent just about every day of the summer in the lab. Darcy then returned to the lab for her Master’s research and worked as a Research Assistant after the completion of her MS. Darcy’s research focus was on comparative genomics of vitamin genes in marine phytoplankton and vitamin physiology in prasinophytes. Darcy then performed her Ph.D. in the lab of Francois Morel at Princeton University and is now a Postdoctoral Scholar in Geobiology and Biology and Biological Engineering.

Adam Monier
Postdoctoral Researcher 2009–2012

Dr. Adam Monier joined the lab after his Ph.D. on HGT and marine eukaryotic viruses. Adam’s research in the lab focused on analysis of eukaryotic metagenomes, targeted metagenomes from flow sorted populations, HGT and on eukaryotic viral genomes. Adam is the lead author on the first genome sequence of the marine prasinophyte Bathycoccus, sequenced directly from nature using targeted metagenomics; he is also first / co-first author on two ISME J articles, and participated in several other publications. Adam moved to perform a second post-doc at the University of Laval in the Takuvik International Lab in Canada where he used omic approaches to identify metabolic responses of marine microbial communities to the changing Arctic. He is now a Royal Society University Research Fellow / Senior Research Fellow at the Living Systems Institute of University of Exeter UK.

Emily Reistetter
Research Technician II 2010–2012

Emily joined the lab after completing her MS at University of Washington in the lab of Prof. Gabrielle Rocap. Emily performed a series of important chemostat experiments with talent and persistence in a technically challenging system. The experiments address the interaction between CO2 concentration and nutrient limitation on phytoplankton growth. The experiments/samples include complete transcriptome and proteome analyses and the first results were published in PNAS (Duanmu, Bachy et al.) in 2014. Emily is a coauthor on multiple other publications / manuscripts from the lab. Emily is now working in the real estate business in the Bay area and still occasionally consults for the lab!

Yun-Chi Lin
Visiting Graduate Student, UCSC/MBARI 2010-2011

Yun-Chi came to the lab on a fellowship from the Taiwan National Science Council to work on her Ph.D. studies on uncultured stramenopiles (MAST). She published one first author paper from this work in Environmental Microbiology; she also performed qPCR, constructed and analyzed clone libraries for a study of phytoplankton in a frontal system. She received her degree from the National Taiwan Ocean University in 2013. We were all sad to see Yun-Chi leave at the end of her 1 year stay! After her Ph.D. Dr. Lin became a post-doc at the Institute of Marine Biology, National Taiwan Ocean University.

Tracy Campbell
Research Technician I 2010–2012

Tracy joined the lab after completing her MS at the University of Hawaii in the lab of Mike Rappe with an interest of gaining some additional research experience before finding and starting a Ph.D. Program. Tracy contributed data support to Lin et al. 2012, a publication addressing the distribution of Marine Stramenopiles (MAST) in marine systems and enhanced our 16S rRNA alignment database. Tracy started research on invertebrates in fall 2012 at MLML.

Shuang Chun “Jeremy” Yan
Postdoctoral Researcher 2011–2012

Jeremy earned his PhD in plant pathology and physiology from Virginia Tech where he studied interactions between plants and bacteria, virulence mechanisms and host range evolution of the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae. At MBARI Jeremy worked on algal physiology in response to changing light fields and temperature as well as host defense systems. Jeremy moved to Harvard University to research novel therapeutics as alternatives to antibiotics in the wake of increasing challenges from multi-drug resistant organisms. Jeremy is a co-author on our Vitamin B1 research (e.g. ISME J 2014). Jeremy went on to perform a MBA at Harvard University and is now at the international consulting firm Innosight Strategy and Innovation at their Boston location

Hang Yu
Summer Intern and Research Assistant June–Dec 2010

Hank came to the lab after completing his undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia. Hank worked on characterizing new phytoplankton isolates and performed a series of experiments for complete transcriptome analysis through RNA-seq on a range of prasinophyte species. Hank started his Ph.D. at Caltech in the lab of Victoria Orphan in autumn 2011 and is now a postdoc in her lab.

Marie L. Cuvelier
Ph.D. Student, RSMAS University of Miami / MBARI Fall 2004-2010

Marie completed her dissertation entitled “New insights into the diversity, distribution and ecophysiology of marine picoeukaryotes” in 2010. In addition to co-authoring several papers in the lab, Marie is first author on a publication on a novel protistan group in Environmental Microbiology as well as one on the importance of picoplanktonic prymnesiophytes to oceanic systems in PNAS. Marie also performed a series of photophysiology experiments on prasinophytes. During her Ph.D. Marie participated in many cruises and was a wonderful team player. Marie went on for a post-doc in the lab of Rebecca Vega Thurber, Florida International University. Marie is now Adjunct Faculty in the Biological Sciences Department at Nova Southeastern University.

Elif Demir
Postdoctoral Researcher 2007–2010

Elif performed her Ph.D. at the University of Delaware in the laboratory of David Hutchins where she worked on harmful algal species. Elif joined the lab here in autumn 2007 and worked on qPCR primer-probe development for enumerating different pico-prasinophytes from which she is first author on publication in the ISME Journal. Elif participated in several North Pacific cruises as well as one in the Florida Straits and played an active role in mentoring undergraduates who came to the lab. At the end of her 3 year post-doc here, Elif moved to work on the Environmental Sample Processor in the Scholin lab group at MBARI.

Alyssa Gehman
Research Technician 2008–2010

Alyssa performed a master’s at Western Washington University on the rocky intertidal. She joined the lab as a research technician hoping to gain a couple more years of research experience before pursuing a Ph.D. in parasitology. Here she ran and analyzed flow cytometry data, performed sorting experiments, participated in cruises and managed the lab! She co-authored two articles from the lab on the dynamics of small phytoplankton. Alyssa has a long standing interest in parasitology and started a Ph.D. at the University of Georgia in Fall 2010 on that topic and where she has been making waves with creative funding mechanisms. 

Heather M. Wilcox
Senior Research Technician 2007–2009

Heather moved from the field of immunology to join the lab in 2007. She has been responsible for developing our metagenomic extraction procedures and managing the ever growing axenic culture collection in addition to many other activities in the lab, including master troubleshooter for RNA work. Here she co-authored publications in PNAS and PLoS Biology. Prior to joining the lab, Heather played important roles in brief episodes setting up the lab at Miami, and helping with the move/set up at MBARI. Heather moved back to the ‘human’ world to have direct involvement with patient care.

Harriet Alexander
Undergraduate Summer Intern 2008, Honors Thesis Student 2009–2010

Harriet quickly mastered the high speed flow sorter and explored the cell cycles of Micromonas and Ostreococcus, as well as helping all sorts of folks out by running their samples. She then developed her own project. After completing her Biology and Math double major at Wellesley College and honors thesis in the Worden Lab, Harriet went on for a Ph.D. in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program. Harriet now has her own lab at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

Julie Vassar
Undergraduate Summer Intern 2009

Julie came to the lab for the MBARI summer internship after her sophomore summer at Smith College. Julie learned to love PCR – always upbeat and cheery, not to mention ready to run another PCR and Gel ASAP!

Rory M. Welsh
Research Technician, RSMAS University of Miami / MBARI 2005–2008

Rory joined the lab in fall of 2005 and quickly became the fall back guy – maintaining the axenic cultures, mastering the high speed flow sorter and participating in a large number of research expeditions – taking him to the tropical Atlantic, South Pacific and the North Pacific. He is well known for his ‘heart of gold’ and for being a patient teacher. He moved with the lab from UM to MBARI in 2007 and stayed on for a year to get the lab up and running in its new home. Rory co-authored papers in PNAS, Current Biology and Environmental Microbiology while in the lab. Rory went on for a Ph.D. in the lab of Rebecca Vega Thurber, Florida International University. Rory is now a Staff Scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA, USA.

Sarah McDonald, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Associate, RSMAS University of Miami / MBARI 2007–2008

Sarah came to the lab in January of 2007 from the Stazione Zoologica in Napoli, Italy after finishing her Ph.D. in which she explored natural eukaryotic phytoplankton populations using genetic markers. In Miami she entered into the field of genomics and designed experiments to explore Micromonas nitrogen and carbon utilization via genome-informed gene expression. She continued with this project after the move to MBARI – resulting in a publication in Molecular Biology and Evolution and co-authorship on the Micromonas genome paper (Worden et al.Science 2009). Sarah went on for a position at SRI International. 

Alejandra Ortiz
Undergraduate Summer Intern, 2008 (2007 & 2006!)

Aleja first joined the lab (while still at University of Miami) the summer after her senior year in high school and then left for Wellesley College. She took on an 18S rRNA gene sequence analysis using consed in her first summer. Aleja returned to the lab for two more summers (one more at UM and one at MBARI) – and orchestrated intense culture based studies on algal response to high light and UV exposure. She is a co-author on several publications / manuscripts. After completing her degree at Wellesley College Aleja went on for a Ph.D. in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program. In May 2015 she accepted a position as Assistant Professor which she will start after completing her post-doc. Aleja, now Aleja Geiger-Ortiz, is an Assistant Professor at Colby College.  

Augustin Engman
Undergraduate Researcher, University of Miami / MBARI 2006-2007

Gus joined the lab and went to sea in his first week! He worked on bacterial-algal interactions and participated in Micromonas growth experiments. His research expeditions include the Florida Straits, Florida to Cape Verde and back, and orchestrating our efforts in the North Pacific transects. Gus finished his B.S. in June of 2007 and stayed on for another half year to help the lab transition to MBARI, and perform the North Pacific research. From this research he coauthored our 2012 de novo wild pelagophyte chloroplast genome in Current Biology. Gus went on to study stream ecology at the Department of Marine Sciences, University of Puerto Rico and subsequently for a Ph.D. back on the mainland and is now a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at NC State University.  

Sharria Scavella
High School Student Researcher, University of Miami, Summer 2007

Sharria’s is interested in the medical field – but joined our lab to learn basic science. She worked on nitrogen growth physiology of Micromonas. At the end of the summer she placed 3rd for her talk on this research at a in a national competition held in Bethesda, Maryland.

Heike Moehlig, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Associate, RSMAS University of Miami 2006–2007

Heike completed her Ph.D. in Germany in the field of immunology and came to the lab to work on phagocytosis in marine nanoflagellate predators. She also co-authored our work on the distribution of a newly identified protistan group (putatively photosynthetic), the biliphytes. Heike moved into biotech (back in Germany). While in Miami Heike also became a sailing aficionado.

Joshua Lake
Undergraduate Extern, MIT Independent Activities Period 2006

Joshua came to the lab while working on his degree in Materials Science at MIT. He worked to set up a system in the lab for incubating phytoplankton in an isothermal environment where they could be exposed to both high light and UV radiation. He also worked on cell cycle analysis of prasinophytes using flow cytometry and the nucleic acid stain Sybr green.

Jason A. Hilton
Undergraduate Honors Thesis Student, University of Miami 2005–2006

Jason undertook the Florida Straits work, specifically the Fluorescence in situ Hybridizations (under the guidance of Dr. F. Not) on different eukaryotic algae. He organized and performed a large number of the Florida Straits expeditions and is a co-author on Cuvelier et al. PNAS 2010. Jason went on for a Ph.D. program in the Department of Ocean Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz in the lab of Jon Zehr, which he defended in 2014.

Vladimer Cessant
Undergraduate Researcher Summer 2005

Vladimer worked the lab during his junior summer at University of Miami.

Fabrice Not, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Associate, RSMAS University of Miami 2004–2005

Fabrice is a Director at the Station Biologique de Roscoff. We had a fortunate coincidence of an unexpected award (GBMF Young Investigator Award to AZW) and Fabrice finishing his Ph.D. and waiting on proposals he had written to stay in Europe. Fabrice initiated the Florida Straits time series and worked on the diversity of picoeukaryotes in the Sargasso Sea – and is first author on the Environ Microbiol publication from that work. He co-authored the picoeukaryotes chapter with Alex in Kirchman’s “Microbial Ecology of the Oceans”.