photo by Alan Silfen

I am a professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT interested in biogeochemical cycles of carbon and nutrients in the ocean.

Over the past decade and more, I have become increasingly fascinated by the biological and ecological aspects of global elemental cycles and developed a new platform for simulating and interpreting the structure, function and biodiversity of marine microbial populations. The approach relies upon the self-assembly of communities from a diverse pool of virtual phenotypes. It provides a bridge between clean concepts from theoretical ecology and the typically sparse observational data from marine ecosystems.

To date, this work has focused on marine phytoplankton populations. In my group we are currently extending the approach to provide more general descriptions of marine microbes including a broader set of trophic strategies. To understand the ecological sorting of populations, we seek to quantitatively understand and model the costs and benefits of particular organismal traits and interactions, constrained by conservation of mass, electron and energy flow.