Have a Question about the Ocean? Ask the Expert!
By Kate Mackey
Assistant Professor of Earth System Science,
consults with doctoral researcher Raisha
Lovindeer about their phytoplankton cultures.
Photo by Steve Zylius/UCI
Johann Lopez (middle), and
undergraduate student Araceli Serrano
(right) setting up an experiment on
mercury cycling in San Elijo Lagoon.
Photo by Priya Ganguli/CSUN
I study marine phytoplankton, the microscopic “plants of the sea,” that do half of all photosynthesis on Earth. They directly influence global climate and make half the oxygen you breathe, yet how they will respond to future global change is unknown. As an oceanographer who takes an integrative, interdisciplinary approach to research, I study the biological and chemical activity of phytoplankton from the cellular level up to global distributions of species. I use culture studies in the laboratory to characterize cells, and use field work to verify lab findings, identify the range of responses from natural populations, and determine their implications in nature.
I lead a large, dynamic lab of talented graduate and undergraduate students who work together and share a passion for research, teaching, science outreach, and promoting diversity in academia. We travel the world studying the ocean, but we also do a lot of work right here in Southern California (check out some of our projects on the lab’s website, www.katemackey.com). We study everything from mercury cycling in lagoons to assessing the impact of ash from fires on our coastal ecosystems – and we want to answer your questions about the ocean.