In 2005, members of the Biology Department conducted research
on a broad range of topics, addressing fundamental questions
in subdisciplines from population biology and ecology, to
the physiology and molecular biology of organisms in the sea.
Biological subjects include viruses, bacteria and protists,
phytoplankton, zooplankton, fishes, sea birds, and mammals.
Questions were pursued in field studies in all the major oceans,
in coastal areas and in the deep sea, as well as in model
systems in the laboratory. The application of genomic technologies
to understand organism function in the sea continues to grow.
The development and use of new technologies for observation
of organisms and biological processes is a continuing strength
of the department. Many studies have practical implications
for conservation and resource management. A number of Biology
staff are actively involved in developing plans for ocean
This year saw the completion of two new laboratories on the
Quissett campus, with nearly a third of the Biology scientific
staff relocating to these buildings. Several of the department’s
microbiologists have their labs in the new Stanley W. Watson
Laboratory, together with members of other departments who
are pursuing related studies in biogeochemistry. The Marine
Research Facility houses the marine mammal research group
and other biologists studying systems ecology and population
connectivity. This building also houses the Institution’s
CT scanning facility.
Promotions and appointments in the scientific staff illustrate
the breadth of activities. John Waterbury and Mark Hahn were
promoted to senior scientist. Waterbury is renowned for his
seminal studies and leadership in marine microbiology. Hahn
is a world authority on the molecular effects of chemicals
in marine species. Associate Scientist Michael Neubert was
awarded tenure this year. His research is in mathematical
ecology. He uses mathematical approaches to understand the
dynamics of ecological invasions, the ecology and economics
of renewable resources, and the responses of ecosystems to
disturbance. Tim Shank was promoted to associate scientist.
Tim studies deep-sea systems, principally hydrothermal vents
and seeps, with the goal of understanding population genetic
structure and evolutionary processes. He combines molecular
biology of species with ecological variables including physical,
chemical, and geological processes.
Two assistant scientists joined the scientific staff last
year. Mark Baumgartner is studying the ecology of top-predators
in the context of ecology of their prey. His current studies
focus on the right whale, and he employs innovative glider
technology to observe the behavior of these whales over time.
Rubao Ji is studying the dynamic spatial and temporal changes
in food webs using coupled biological-physical models, focusing
on the lower trophic levels. He also is involved in analysis
of zooplankton population changes.
Scientific staff members continue to show high levels of productivity
in their own research, and extensive contributions to the
broader scientific enterprise, nationally and internationally.
The staff provides leadership and other service to federal
agencies, scientific journals, universities, National Research
Council and other national committees, across the breadth
of our departmental strengths. Staff members provide leadership
of two WHOI Ocean Institutes, the Center for Oceans and Human
Health, and the vital fleet committee of the University-National
Oceanographic Laboratory System. Such leadership activities
benefit our own scientific enterprise, and help maintain the
vitality of oceanography.
—John Stegeman, Department Chair