Phytoplankton are Cool, And not the Plankton form the Spongbob

Hi, my name’s Charles. I live in Jackson,MS, and I just completed my first year at Rice University.  I am  majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (this is one major and also a mouthful) with a possible minor in Environmental Studies.

I’m extremely excited to be here in Port Aransas as a part of the 2017 REU program. This summer I will be working in Dr. Erdner’s lab. My project this summer relates to algal microbiome, more specifically the relationship between phytoplankton and bacteria attached to them. In the ocean bacteria exist as free-living organisms and also as attached organisms. These attached bacteria can live connected detritus, or connected to other organisms such as phytoplankton.

Phytoplankton, commonly referred to as algae, are one of the major producers of the ocean. Although it is known that these organism live in close proximity, not much is known about their relationship and possible symbiosis. This summer I am going to try to bridge this gap in knowledge by analyzing sequence data from several algal communities and comparing this sequence data to physiological data from these cultures.

This my first time working with phytoplankton, so I am extremely anxious to get into the lab and start my work. I have done research before, in high school but it focused more on how the bacteria related to human health. My project also involves statistical analysis with software that I am not familiar with, so it will be interesting to learn it. I’m excited to get started on my project and I am looking forward to the rest of the summer at UT MSI.

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