Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Dr Phoebe J Lam
Dr Phoebe J Lam's photoPhoebe J Lam

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Research Interests

I am a “marine particle geochemist” interested in the role that marine particles play in the biogeochemical cycling of major and minor elements in the ocean such as carbon, iron, and other trace elements.  This includes the factors affecting the efficiency of the biological carbon pump; the past and current role of iron in stimulating primary production; the chemical speciation and bioavailability of marine particulate iron; the role of major particle composition on particle export (the ballast hypothesis) and on trace metal scavenging; and much more!  I am actively involved in the International GEOTRACES program, which is greatly expanding our understanding of the cycling of trace elements in the ocean, and revealing new questions about the role of particles every day.

Our standard mode of operation is to collect size-fractionated marine particles from the water column, and analyze their composition using a range of wet geochemical  (e.g., ICP-MS) and spectroscopic (e.g., synchrotron x-ray absorption spectroscopy) techniques.  We are constantly expanding our toolkit in collaboration with colleagues specializing in modeling (e.g., using inverse methods to study scavenging and particle dynamics), isotope geochemistry (e.g., using Nd isotopes to study provenance, or Cd and Zn isotopes to study biological uptake and remineralization), or radiochemistry (e.g., using 234Th-238U disequilibrium to measure particle export flux) to deepen our understanding of the role of particles in the marine environment.

Please note: I am currently on leave of absence from WHOI and have moved to the Department of Ocean Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Prospective graduate students and postdocs interested in working with me at UC Santa Cruz are welcome to email me at

Ph.D., UC Berkeley, December 2005, Earth and Planetary Science M.A., Princeton University, May 1999, Geosciences S.B., MIT, June 1997, Environmental Engineering Science

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