Mission Scientist, Marine Biotoxins Program, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center
Bio: I’m a Supervisory Research Microbiologist with the Marine Microbes and Toxins Program at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. My career takes me many places because microbes are everywhere. But I didn’t start out as a microbiologist; my science career started as an aquatic toxicologist studying fish and shellfish diseases resulting from human-generated contaminants, such as aromatic hydrocarbons and dioxins. After graduate training in cellular and molecular biology, I switched to research in infectious diseases in salmon, particularly bacterial diseases. Lately, I’ve become more interested in how bacteria and other microbes respond to changes in the aquatic environment. This career path has allowed me to get out on ships and boats since 1977, from the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, to the U.S. West Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and Long Island Sound. I’ve spent the most time on Puget Sound though. I’m looking forward to learning how the communities of ‘small stuff’ (especially bacteria) are responding to the changes in ocean chemistry our cruise oceanographers are seeing.
What I’m doing on this cruise: As a dominant biomass in the oceans that exceeds the combined mass of zooplankton and fishes, bacteria and archaea cycle nutrients between organic and inorganic states to make them available for use by other organisms. My colleague Bill Nilsson and I are assessing that status of bacterial abundance, bacterial community structures, and heterotrophic production associated with variations in ocean chemistry measured by the chemical oceanographers.