Dr. Julia M. Diaz
Geosciences Research Division
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California San Diego
Research in the Diaz lab explores the biogeochemistry of ocean health and marine ecosystem functioning. Broadly, our goal is to understand how interactions between the geochemistry and microbiology of the ocean shape the natural world, including global climate and natural resources. We conduct our research using a combination of lab-based experiments and field work in diverse ocean settings. Many of our projects focus on phytoplankton, which are microscopic plantlike organisms that drift with the ocean’s currents. Phytoplankton form the base of the marine food web, regulate global climate by taking up the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, and provide us with half the oxygen we breathe. Among other projects, we study how marine phytoplankton cope with stress by obtaining the chemical nutrients they need from seawater (such as phosphorus) and converting chemical elements into forms that can be harmful or beneficial to life (such as reactive oxygen species). Pairing observational proteomics datasets with experimental biochemical assays to unveil novel enzymes that drive these biogeochemical processes is a key aspect of our research.