Maria Maldonado

Professor

ESB 2067
(604) 822-4198
faculty

-Physiological mechanisms and regulation of trace metal acquisition by marine phytoplankton -The role of trace metal availability in controlling the ecology and evolution of marine phytoplankton and bacteria -Interactive effects of N metabolism and Fe acquisition in microorganisms -The role of the biota in controlling biogeochemical cycles of trace elements in the ocean Trace elements regulation of harmful algal blooms -Substitution of trace metals in Fe-limited marine phytoplankton and bacteria -Elucidating the mechanistic link between variations in glacial-interglacial oceanic Fe bioavailability & phytoplankton assemblages, and the potential impact of phytoplankton productivity/assemblages in past and present climate. On an annual basis, marine phytoplankton reduce ~45 Gigatons of carbon dioxide to organic carbon, accounting for roughly half of total C fixation on Earth. A fraction of the organic carbon produced in marine surface waters (~ 16 GT) is exported to the deep ocean as sinking particles. Variations in the magnitude of this so-called 'biological carbon pump' affect the carbon dioxide content of the upper ocean, which in turn regulates atmospheric carbon dioxide levels—and hence climate—on time scales ranging from hundreds to thousands of years. In order to understand the regulation of the global carbon cycle, it is thus imperative to determine the factors that control oceanic primary productivity. In the last few decades, it has become apparent that the availability of certain micronutrients, such as the trace elements Fe, Mn, Zn, and Co may affect the species composition, functioning and growth of plankton communites. My research program is directed towards understanding trace metal acquisition, metabolism and nutrition of marine bacteria and phytoplankton. My research aims to addresses fundamental questions in microbial physiology, ecology and evolution in order to better understand how trace metal distribution and speciation may control global primary productivity in the present day and over glacial-interglacial cycles. In turn, these findings will elucidate how marine microorganisms may affect trace metal biogeochemical distribution and cycling in the ocean. My research approach is multidisciplinary, combining cell physiology, ecology, and ocean biochemistry, and applying state-of-the -art analytical techniques to the study of marine microbial/algal processes. Laboratory physiological and biochemical investigations are complemented with field research in oceanic regions, such as in the Subarctic Pacific and the Southern Ocean, in order to elucidate the occurrence of these physiological mechanisms in the ocean.

Research Opportunities

PhD Opportunity in Chemical Oceanography, Sources of Microplastics in the Salish Sea

Level PhD
Start Date January 2022

Research project:

We are seeking a motivated PhD student to investigate whether waste water treatment plants (WWTP) outfalls in the Metro Vancouver area are a significant source of microfibers and microplastics in the Strait of Georgia. Ultimately, this project aims to inform provincial and federal frameworks and policy for mitigating microplastics pollution at the source. The candidate will be part of an interdisciplinary team that includes biological, chemical and physical oceanographers, and civil engineers specializing in WWTP. The student’s project will be conducted in collaboration with Metro Vancouver Liquid Waste Management Services, and under the supervision of three PIs (Profs. Roger Francois, EOAS; Ryan Ziels, Civil Eng.; Maite Maldonado, EOAS) whose research focuses on chemical and biochemical processes in the marine environment and sewage treatment plants. It will include laboratory work for the development of efficient sampling equipment and microplastic extraction protocols, as well as field work to collect samples at point sources and in the water column of the Salish Sea. The candidate will also interact with physical oceanographers to integrate their data into predictive numerical model to evaluate the ultimate fate of microplastics and microfibers in the Strait of Georgia.

Ideal Applicant Profile:

The project is extremely challenging and will require determination and a positive attitude. We are looking for a self-motivated graduate student driven to pursue a career at the cutting edge of science, able to work independently, and with strong analytical skills and proven academic excellence in chemistry, biochemistry or environmental biogeochemistry.

 

Canada Research Chair II / Associate Professor, B.A. (1991) Smith College (Northampton, MA) Ph.D. (1999) McGill University (Montréal, Quebec) Postdoctoral: UCSC (Santa Cruz, California), Princeton University & University of Maine (Orono, Maine) Faculty Member, UBC (2003 - ) phone: (604) 822-4198, mmaldonado@eos.ubc.ca

PDFs and RAs

Postdoctoral Fellow

Graduate Students

PhD
PhD
MSc
MSc
MSc Oceanography
MSc Oceanography
MSc Oceanography
MSc Oceanography
MSc Oceanography