We use functional (protein coding) and ribosomal genes as markers of microbial diversity and activity to characterize communities of micro-organisms that contribute to biogeochemical cycles in marine and freshwater systems.  We investigate the influence of environmental gradients and interactions among microbial community members on shaping the community composition and activity in natural microbial systems.  We apply tools such as quantitative PCR, amplicon sequencing, transcriptomics, genomics, and advanced microscopy to investigate ecology of specific functional groups (such as nitrogen-fixing or toxin-producing cyanobacteria), in parallel with measurements of gradients in environmental conditions. 


Ecology and roles of marine microbial functional groups

Research support


Office of Naval Research (DOD). Marine Undersea Science and Technology Program. Advances in Marine Technology: New Solutions to Biofouling (PI). Co-PI W-S Chang (UMassD Chemistry), Collaborators: Navy Research lab (Newport, RI), Michigan State University. 3/2020-2/2023.

Office of Naval Research (DOD). Marine Undersea Science and Technology Program. Anti-biofouling Property and Lifetime of Super-Hydrophobic Surfaces in Marine Environment (Co-PI). PI: Hangjian Ling (UMassD Mechanical Engineering), Co-PIs PH Moisander, W-S Chang (UMassD Chemistry). 3/2020-2/2023.

University-Industry Collaborative Seed Funding Program. Assessment of Biological Fate of Microplastics Discharged from Wastewater Treatment Plants in Massachusetts. 3/2020-3/2021. Collaborator: CoastalOceanVision, Inc., Falmouth, MA.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Environmental Protection. Bacterial Monitoring in Southern Massachusetts. 2019.

Multi-Institutional Collaborative Seed Grant. Effects of Novel Antifouling Methods on Marine Biofilms. Collaborators: W-S Chang (UMassD Chemistry); Naval Undersea Warfare Center (Newport, RI), Michigan State University. 2019-2020.

Joint Genome Institute - Department of Energy. Community Science Program. Identifying Present and Active Nitrogen-Fixing Communities on the Land-Ocean Interphase (PI). 2018-2021.

NSF Chemical Oceanography. EAGER: Collaborative Research: Detection Limit in Marine Nitrogen Fixation Measurements: Constraints of Rates from the Mesopelagic Ocean (PI). 2017-2018. 

Boston Engineering Corporation (subcontracts). OHIO Class Hull External Antifouling: Influence of UV Light on Marine Biofilms. (Phase I-II) (Primary agency Naval Sea Systems, DOD). 2016-2019. 

Nantucket Land Council/Nantucket Yacht Basin. Influence of Nutrients on Benthic Cyanobacterial Blooms in the Nantucket Harbor. (PI). 2016-2017.

NSF Biological Oceanography. Microbial Associations in Zooplankton: Importance for the Marine Nitrogen Cycle (PI). (Collaborative with M Altabet, UMassD SMAST). 2011-2016.

United States Geological Survey / Massachusetts Water Resources Research Institute.  Influence of Nutrients on Microcystis Blooms in the Charles River Watershed. 2015-2016.

Multidisciplinary Seed Grant, UMass Dartmouth. Marine Paleomics - a Promising New Approach for Exploring Biological and Living Marine Resource Responses to Climate Change (Collaborative with M Altabet, SMAST). 2015. 

NSF Biological Oceanography. Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) - Supplement. Microbial Associations in Zooplankton: Importance for the Marine Nitrogen Cycle (PI). 2014. 

UMass SMS seed grant. Linkages Between Bacteria and the Moon Jelly, Aurelia aurita (Co-PI)(collaborative with J Urban- Rich, UMass Boston). 2012-2013. 

C-MORE (Center for Microbial Oceanography) Edventures award.  Undergraduate Research: N2-Fixation in Heterotrophic Bacteria in the Sargasso Sea 2011.