Our lab studies how metals like iron, copper, nickel and cobalt cycle in the ocean. These metals are important nutrients for phytoplankton in the open ocean, but some of them can be toxic at high concentrations in coastal environments, like bays or marinas. It is important to characterize the distributions and cycling of these metals in order to understand and predict how phytoplankton and bacteria will grow.
All of these metals are however, associated with organic molecules in the marine environment which bind them tightly and affect how they cycle; how microorganisms can take them up, and how reactive they are in seawater. We are interested in characterizing these compounds, using voltammetric and mass-spectrometry based approaches, in order to determine which metal-ligand compounds are most available to phytoplankton and bacteria, and how these compounds impact the biogeochemical cycles of metals in seawater.