The lab's research is focused on phytoplankton as model organisms to address questions related to water, climate and energy. We use quantitative experimental approaches to elucidate the importance of biotic and abiotic factors influencing phytoplankton dynamics (community composition, physiology, ecology) in field and laboratory-settings. It is collaborative, multidisciplinary and international (see publications list). However, does not follow the 20th century paradigm of striving to be the best in a narrowly defined field. Rather, our research paradigm is to continuously generate new ideas and new collaborations and alliances, which is needed to do well in the 21st century. In this way, the research we perform in the lab is capacity building for a new generation, with whom I have a strong commitment.
One of the greatest challenges facing the world today is ensuring an adequate supply and quality of water to meet rapidly increasing human needs whilst securing the continued health of our waterways. The goal of much of the lab's research is to understand and predict interactions between water systems, climate change, land use and ecosystem function and services in estuaries and coasts. We are working predominately in the Gulf of Mexico, Galveston Bay and other Texas bayous to address these concerns, but also have studies with colleagues in other regions of the world. A parallel goal is addressing emerging issues for the 21st century, including but not limited to, the fate and transport of engineered nanoparticles, oil pollutants and other man-made materials in the environment. Phytoplankton are directly and indirectly impacted by these pollutants, such that there is an increased potential for bioaccumulation and biomagnification to higher trophic levels. The potential phytoplankton protective and detoxifying mechanisms are also of interest.