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, and genomics 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 of microbial functional groups contributing to biogeochemical cycles

Research support


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: Navy Environmental Research Lab (Newport, RI), Michigan State University. 2019-2020.

Joint Genome Institute - Department of Energy. Community Science Program. 2018-2021. Identifying present and active nitrogen-fixing communities on the land-ocean interphase (PI).

NSF Chemical Oceanography. 2017-2018. EAGER: Collaborative Research: Detection limit in marine nitrogen fixation measurements: Constraints of rates from the mesopelagic ocean (PI). $49,900 to UMassD (Collaborative with UConn, OSU) 

Boston Engineering Corporation (subcontracts). 2016-2019. OHIO class hull external antifouling: Influence of UV light on marine biofilms. (Phase I-II) (Primary agency Naval Sea Systems, DoD). $73,388

Nantucket Land Council/Nantucket Yacht Basin. 2016-2017. Influence of nutrients on benthic cyanobacterial blooms in the Nantucket Harbor. (PI). $24,313

NSF Biological Oceanography. 2011-2016. Microbial associations in zooplankton: importance for the marine nitrogen cycle (PI).(Collaborative with Mark Altabet, UMassD SMAST) $616,980

NSF Biological Oceanography. 2014. Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) - Supplement. Microbial associations in zooplankton: importance for the marine nitrogen cycle (PI). $6,920

Multidisciplinary Seed Grant, UMass Dartmouth. 2015. Marine paleomics - a promising new approach for exploring biological and living marine resource responses to climate change (Collaborative with Mark Altabet, SMAST). $24,126

UMass SMS seed grant. 2012-2013. Linkages between bacteria and the Moon Jelly, Aurelia aurita (Co-PI)(collaborative with J. Urban- Rich, UMass Boston) $9,500.

C-MORE (Center for Microbial Oceanography) Edventures award. 2011. Undergraduate research: N2-fixation in heterotrophic bacteria in the Sargasso Sea $9,999

United States Geological Survey / Massachusetts Water Resources Research Institute. 2015-2016. Influence of nutrients on Microcystis blooms in the Charles River watershed. 

Quebec-Labrador Foundation (Sounds Conservancy). 2016-2017. Distribution of potentially pathogenic Vibrio in the coastal waters of Massachusetts.

Quebec-Labrador Foundation (Sounds Conservancy). 2013. Spatio-temporal distributions of brown-tide causing harmful algal species Cochlodinium polykrikoides in the Buzzards Bay

Quebec-Labrador Foundation (Sounds Conservancy). 2011. Toxin production by cyanobacteria on Nantucket Island.

Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative. 2014. Genomic characterization of filamentous cyanobacteria on Nantucket beaches. 

Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative. 2011. Diversity of toxin-producing cyanobacteria on Nantucket Island.