My role in EPOCA arctic
I am coming to Svalbard on behalf of Dr Jack Gilbert who unfortunately will not be able to join us. On our scheduled days of sampling I will be helping the rest of the members of our group with the sampling procedures in and out of the laboratory with the final goal being to see the effect of ocean acidification on microorganisms such as bacteria and smaller biological entities such as viruses. The isolated DNA of our samples will be then examined in detail in order to see if it changes with time and with different exposure levels to CO2. In the extra time available I am hoping to get data for my PhD project. I will be looking at the lipids composition in the mesocosm and also identify specific virus communities and further analyze the DNA of the viruses for key genes involved in phosphate acquisition and host death.
My thoughts about the trip
I am very excited to be involved in such an amazing international research project and really looking forward to it. It will be an amazing experience to work at this remote and wild location with some of the best researchers in environmental microbiology. I have never been to the Arctic and this will be a great first step for me to get involved in polar research. I am particularly looking forward to going out there on the boats, in the middle of the fjord and getting samples that will generate lots of new data and knowledge to the important study of ocean acidification. And who knows, I might even see a polar bear or a whale in the process which will definitely be a bonus.
More about my research
I am a marine biologist that is trying to do the difficult transformation to a marine virologist/ molecular biologist. I am in my first year of my PhD in the Plymouth Marine Laboratory/ Nottingham University and my project is titled: ‘Ecological and functional biodiversity in a marine algal virus system’. The aim is to use molecular tools to study important genes of marine viruses infecting phytoplankton and uncover the importance of these genes in the host cell death mechanism. Biogeography and environmental adaptations are important in any species and viruses are no exception. Therefore during my PhD I will be extending my research to remote areas of the Arctic, Antarctic and the Atlantic Ocean with the hope to gain useful information of why viruses are found where they are found and what is the relationship between environmental factors such as nutrient availability and the infection dynamics and gene expression of particular virus groups.