Nicolas C. Van Oostende

Postdoctoral Research Associate
Ward Research Laboratory
609 258 1052
Email Address:
Office Location: 
158 Guyot Hall

Title: Postdoctoral Research Associate

Position: Research Staff

Group: Ward Research Laboratory

Area(s): Geochemistry

Research Summary:  My research addresses how microbial organisms shape the world we live in through their biochemical capacities, their interactions and life histories. Trained as a biologist, I have acquired expertise in the fields of marine microbial ecology and biogeography, bacteria-phytoplankton interactions, ocean biogeochemistry and the roles of phytoplankton in the nitrogen and carbon cycles (e.g., photosynthetic carbon fixation, nitrate uptake, calcification and extracellular production). To gain mechanistic insights in these microbial interactions I integrate existing and de novo laboratory and field ecophysiological data with remote sensing products in a quantitative framework through ecosystem modelling. My overarching interest is the relationship between biological form and function of organisms as biogeochemical agents, or in other words, how the ‘packaging’ (e.g., cell size and morphology) and ‘content’ (e.g., gene content, physiology, life history) of cells impact their/our environment and shape their interactions with other organisms. My current research focuses on i) elucidating the role of (phyto)plankton functional groups in the ocean’s biological pump through ii) the physiological traits associated with the niches of key species in terms of cell size, growth, nutrient uptake and light harvesting strategies, and iii) how these strategies manifest themselves at the molecular and ecosystem level. I believe that in order to address these outstanding questions, it is imperative to use a multidisciplinary approach combining insights produced using different tools (from genomics to isotopic composition to remote sensing) at spatial scales ranging from subcellular to ocean basin.

Keywords: phytoplankton, microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, ocean, modelling, bioinformatics