Dr. Julia M. Diaz
Department of Marine Sciences
Skidaway Institute of Oceanography
University of Georgia
Research in my lab explores the interface between marine microbiology and geochemistry. The goal of our work is to understand how biogeochemical interactions shape the natural world – from climate, to natural resources, to ecosystem health. We conduct our research using a combination of lab-based experiments and field work in diverse ocean settings, including tropical reefs and polar seas. Many of our projects focus on phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are microscopic plantlike organisms that drift with the ocean’s currents. They form the base of the marine food chain and provide us with half the oxygen we breathe. Among other projects, we study how phytoplankton obtain the chemical nutrients they need from seawater (such as phosphorus) and how they convert chemical elements into forms that can be harmful or beneficial to life (such as reactive oxygen species). Identifying the enzymes that drive these biogeochemical processes is a key objective of our research.