Steering Committee


Ben Ward
University of Southampton

My research is directed towards a mechanistic understanding of marine plankton communities. Such systems are highly complex, with global impacts determined by the interaction of innumerable microscopic individuals. It is impossible to identify and describe each individual component, and so I have sought to develop models that capture the key physiological and ecological rules of organisation. Rather than asking "Who are the important players in the marine ecosystem, and what do they do?", I prefer to ask "How do fundamental microbial traits dictate large-scale ecosystem function?".


FANNY Monteiro

I look at what drives marine ecosystem, biogeochemical cycles and climate to interact. I am interested in particular in the role of marine plankton and nutrients on the carbon cycle. My work combines mathematical and numerical modelling in comparison with observations. Recent projects have focused on understanding the controlling mechanisms for coccolithophore ecology, marine nitrogen fixation and the spread of anoxic conditions during the Oceanic Anoxic Events of the Cretaceous.


Karen Stamieszkin
Virginia Institute of Marine Science

People often say, “everything is connected.” I am most interested in ways that the environment structures marine plankton communities on seasonal and inter-annual timescales, and how those communities function, in turn impacting the marine environment through geochemistry. I use numerical models, synthesize large datasets, conduct experiments and make at-sea observations, all in an effort to understand how and why everything is connected.


Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Marine phytoplankton are microscopic photosynthetic organisms living in the ocean surface. They form the base of the marine food chain, and can thus impact larger marine organisms, from zooplankton to commercially important fish and even whales. Phytoplankton also play instrumental roles in the global cycles of carbon, oxygen, and other elements. Yet despite their tremendous ecological, societal, and global importance, we are only beginning to explore the great biodiversity of phytoplankton, and understand their complex ecology and interactions with the environment.


Technical University of Denmark

I want to understand how life in the ocean is organised, why marine organisms look and act the way they do, and how marine ecosystems react to perturbations like fishing, species removals/invasions or climate change.


Stephanie Dutkiewicz
Massachusetts institute of technology

My research interests lie at the intersection of the marine ecosystem and the physical and biogeochemical environment. I examine how physics and chemistry of the ocean determines phytoplankton biogeography, and how in turn those organisms affect their environment. I am particularly interested in how the interactions of these components of the earth system will change in a warming world. To advance this research I am involved in developing and using complex numerical models and simple theoretical frameworks, guided by laboratory, field and satellite observations.


Øyvind fiksen
University of Bergen

I work on marine organisms, populations and ecosystems. I like research that are mechanistic, quantitative and driven by theory, and my favourite animals are fish and zooplankton. Environmental gradients in space and time create trade-offs between growth and survival, and organisms are well adapted to move along these slopes. Behavioural decisions have far-reacing consequences to for example recruitment processes and ecosystem functioning. As an example, both feeding success and death rates of a larval fish depends on its activity level and where in the water column it prefer to be. I find it intriguing to apply evolutionary models to predict where animals should be found in these gradients.


Elena Litchman

I am interested in how the interplay of biotic and abiotic factors structures phytoplankton communities in both freshwater and marine environments. We seek to understand how ecological traits and trade-offs determine plankton community structure under different environmental conditions. Using laboratory experiments and data analysis, we characterize growth and resource utilization traits, trade-offs and ecological strategies of major phytoplankton functional groups from both freshwater and marine environments. We then use mechanistic models, including adaptive dynamics techniques, to explain and predict the occurrence and dominance of these phytoplankton groups, the evolution of observed trait distributions and trade-offs between key functional traits. We also test model predictions in laboratory experiments with phytoplankton communities.


Tatiana Rynearson
University of Rhode Island

My area of research is in marine genomics and population genetics. My goals are to understand the ecological and evolutionary processes shaping genetic diversity in the plankton and to examine how those processes affect plankton community structure, function and productivity in coastal regions. My approach is to identify and exploit the genetic variation that exists within and between individuals to examine how plankton respond to their environment.


Christian Lindemann
University of Bergen

The general focus of my work is on the effect of variable marine environment on the physiology and behaviour of marine living organisms, in particularly phytoplankton. To investigate these bio-physical interactions I work with different numerical approaches.  


Agostino Merico
Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research

Modelling and analysis of complex biological, ecological and socioeconomic systems with applications on, biodiversity, sustainability, ecosystem function, climate change, human behaviour, and the collapse of societies.



His research focuses on the role of plankton ecosystems in marine biogeochemical cycles, and he has worked in modelling the ocean’s elemental cycles across a range of physical frameworks, from the global-scale to the Arctic.