Trained as a molecular and cell biologist, my research focuses on characterizing the underlying molecular mechanisms that have contributed to the ecological success of phytoplankton. Despite representing <1% of the Earth’s biomass, this microscopic slice of the planet contributes nearly 50% of global primary productivity and plays a role in nearly every major biogeochemical cycle including carbon, nitrogen, and silicon. To understand how these organisms will respond to future predicted changes in the ocean, we need to understand the molecular and biochemical mechanisms that govern their physiological responses. My research combines molecular, biochemical, and biophysical techniques with large scale genomic and transcriptomic studies to answer fundamental questions about the physiology and functional ecology of this globally important group of organisms. Using laboratory model systems of diatoms and coccolithophores, we seek to understand how these organisms respond to environmental stress (e.g. light and nutrient availability, viral infection) and the factors that control their growth and productivity. We then extend these culture-based observations to natural populations on oceanographic research cruises using observational and deck-board manipulative studies.