Our research is primarily on the empirical and theoretical ecology of microbial communities, with a significant focus on phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are a globally important group of photosynthetic microbes responsible for about half of carbon fixation on Earth. They form the basis of most aquatic food webs and significantly affect water quality and other ecosystem functions. We use observation, experiments, mathematical models, and data syntheses to understand how phytoplankton and other microbial communities respond to changing environmental conditions and how biotic interactions mediate those responses.
We also use phytoplankton communities as a model system to answer fundamental ecological questions, such as determining the causes and consequences of biodiversity, ecosystem resilience, and predictability. Our research links multiple levels of biological organization, from physiological to ecosystem, to the whole globe level, with the focus on functional traits and communities.
We also study other microbial communities, such as host-associated microbiomes, uncovering the principles of their assembly and functioning.