Please note: You are viewing the unstyled version of this website. Either your browser does not support CSS (cascading style sheets) or it has been disabled. Skip navigation.


   Print  PDF  Change text to small (default) Change text to medium Change text to large

basket stars

Enlarge Image

Basket stars were collected in Barrow Canyon, Alaska, using a Tucker Trawl during a research cruise led by biologist Carin Ashjian in 2009. Basket stars are a type of brittle star that have a series of complexly branched arms which are used to catch plankton. (Photo courtesy of Carin Ashjian, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Related Multimedia

Photo Highlights

2009 Photo Highlights
» View Slideshow

Bering Sea Ecosystem Expedition

Bering Sea Ecosystem Expedition
In the spring of 2009, researchers from WHOI's Biology department traversed the Bering Sea on board the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, studying how climate change is affecting the delicately balanced polar ecosystem.
» Learn more on Polar Discovery
» View Slideshow

Related Links

» Biology Department

Staff members in the Biology Department contribute extensively to the broader scientific community, nationally and internationally. The staff provides leadership and other service to federal agencies, scientific journals, universities, the National Research Council and other national and international committees. Staff members also fill lead roles in the WHOI Ocean Institutes, the Center for Oceans and Human Health, the newly formed NOAA Cooperative Institute CINAR, and the vital fleet committee of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System.

Two contributions are particularly noteworthy during 2009: (1) Don Anderson’s Congressional testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee on Energy and Environment on harmful algal blooms; and (2) the recognition of the International Polar Bear Science Team, of which Hal Caswell is a member, as a finalist for the Service to America - Environmental Medal. Such leadership activities benefit our own scientific enterprise and help maintain the vitality of oceanography.

In its research endeavors, the Biology Department strives to improve its understanding of the ecology and evolutionary biology of living organisms in the sea. Our scientists use a variety of tools to observe, experiment and model interactions among species and between species and their environments.

In 2009, members of the WHOI Biology Department continued their worldwide investigations of life in bodies of water from oceans to lagoons. Their subjects ranged in size from microscopic to massive marine mammals; their interests from genes to entire ecosystems.

Among the expeditions undertaken by Biology staff in 2009 were a cruise to the Phoenix Islands Protected Area near the Republic of Kiribati in the South Pacific; studies of the corals of the Red Sea through collaboration with the King Abdul University of Science and Technology (KAUST); a multi-disciplinary voyage to the Bering Sea aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy to examine the effects of climate change on the Arctic ecosystem; and coastal cruises to examine the distribution of harmful algal blooms in the North Atlantic.

Four new Assistant Scientists joined the staff of the Biology Department in 2009, adding new expertise in a variety of sub-disciplines and contributing to the intellectual energy of the department. 

  • Matt Johnson is a microbial ecologist with interests in the ecology of microzooplankton grazers and the evolution and ecology of acquired phototrophy through endosymbiotic associations of organisms (such as corals and ciliates) with algae. He combines experimental approaches and molecular analyses to determine the ecological and evolutionary relationships of phototrophs and their hosts. 
  • Julie Kellner is a conservation biologist who focuses her research on population and community dynamics within the context of spatial heterogeneity, human impacts and environmental regulations. She uses modeling techniques in theoretical ecology and spatial analysis to better understand the scientific elements of marine spatial planning.
  • Sam Laney is a phytoplankton ecologist who develops new tools to examine photosynthesis and growth in oceanic phytoplankton and measure the growth of individual cells. He uses experimental and observational techniques, numerical modeling and satellite remote sensing to examine phytoplankton ecological dynamics.
  • Gareth Lawson is a biological oceanographer whose interests focus on the physical and biological factors that influence the distribution and movement of pelagic organisms. His research is highly collaborative with physical oceanographers and ocean engineers and he is developing new acoustic tools to study zooplankton and their predators.
Judy Mcdowell, Department Chair

Last updated: March 16, 2010

whoi logo

Copyright ©2007 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, All Rights Reserved, Privacy Policy.
Problems or questions about the site, please contact