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Joan Bernhard preparing sediment sample

Sampling Sediments

Joan Bernhard, a geobiologist in WHOI's Department of Geology and Geophysics, prepares a sediment sample for analysis. Bernhard studies protists (also called protozoa) that live on and in the seafloor. Protists are single-celled eukaryotes, meaning each cell contains a nucleus and other organelles that are enclosed by membranes. Bernhard is especially interested in the adaptations that allow some protists to live in extreme environments that are toxic for most forms of life on Earth. This fall she will supervise the sediment sampling during a Dive & Discover cruise to the Mediterranean to look for life in deep brine pools that are up to 10 times saltier than normal seawater, lack oxygen, and often contain toxic sulfides. (Photo by Virginia Edgcomb, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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