Matt First, 2008 Postdoctoral Scholar


My research focuses on interactions between pathogenic bacteria and free-living protists in aquatic environments. Soon after I was awarded an OLI postdoctoral scholarship, my postdoctoral advisors, Joan Bernhard (Geology and Geophysics) and Rebecca Gast (Biology), wrote an internal proposal, which was funded through the Coastal Ocean Institute (see COI Funded Projects: Protists as reservoirs of human pathogens in coastal environments). This money allows us to expand our project goals to include ultrastructure analysis of protists with intracellular pathogens using electron microscopy. In my first year as a postdoctoral scholar, I prepared and submitted a NSF proposal to continue this research; the proposal is still under review. My work at WHOI has attracted some attention with the scientific media, and an article was recently published online in Oceanus describing this research (link to the article). This article was later highlighted on the Consortium for Ocean Leadership’s website (link to the article). In addition to presentations locally and at a national meeting, I was also invited to speak at the Science Made Public lecture series during the summer of 2009. Recently, I resubmitted a manuscript to Applied and Environmental Microbiology with the initial results from this project investigating Microbial Trojan Horses. I am currently preparing two other manuscripts for publication. The WHOI postdoctoral scholarship program is well recognized as a top-tier postdoctoral training program for researchers in ocean sciences, and receiving the award was a great honor. For me, the OLI scholarship was an ideal opportunity to expand my research goals and investigate interactions between pathogenic bacteria and their predators in the marine environment.