My background is in macroecology—the relationship between organisms and their environment on broad spatial scales—with a focus on large-scale patterns and processes in marine ecosystems. The investigation of large-scale variability in the ocean requires an understanding of the dynamics of ocean currents, so following my undergraduate work in marine ecology, I broadened my focus and studied physical and biological oceanography at Oregon State University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). I am now a research scientist in the Applied Physics Lab at the University of Washington.
My research is interdisciplinary and aims to describe the biological response to the horizontal and vertical movement of water masses in the open ocean, and the chemicals, nutrients, and particulates that move with them. I am currently investigating the influence of nonlinear mesoscale ocean eddies—large, swirling masses of water that can travel for hundreds or thousands of miles—on primary production—the ability of phytoplankton to convert inorganic carbon in the atmosphere and ocean into compounds that form the building blocks of life. In addition, I seek to understand and describe why eddies originating in different regions have different effects on marine ecosystems. To investigate these interactions between the physical and biological marine systems in the open ocean, I am conducting a comparative analysis that combines numerous satellite observations, measurements from instruments in the ocean (Argo floats, gliders, etc.), and the output of numerical simulations that are capable of resolving eddy-scale features in regions where we already know there is a strong relationship between mesoscale eddies and primary production.
Want to learn more about eddies and our research? Check out this short movie.