OHSU

Microbial oceanographer joins research team

Ben Li, microbial oceanographer

07/29/2011 Portland, Ore.

The Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) announced today that it has appointed Binglin (Ben) Li to a post-doctoral research position with the Division of Environmental and Biomolecular Systems (EBS) and the Center for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction (CMOP).

Li comes to OHSU from the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he recently completed his Ph.D. in microbial oceanography in the Department of Oceanography. His research focused on the dynamics of photosynthetic plankton in the oligotrophic North Pacific Subtropical Gyre.

Li’s professional experience includes a research assistant position with the University of Hawaii. There he used molecular techniques and microscopy to study marine diatom dynamics. He was also involved in over 27 research cruises including 22 monthly Hawaii Ocean Time-series cruises.

“Ben is an excellent addition to the CMOP coastal margin science effort because his doctoral work focused on investigations of North Pacific phytoplankton populations through molecular and microscopy techniques as well as photophysiology,” said EBS professor Peter Zuber, Ph.D. “He will be a valuable participant in the plankton bloom science initiative.”

Li will focus his research efforts on identifying and characterizing the microbial communities inhabiting the Columbia River estuarine and marine environments. He will be working with a team of scientists including, Zuber, Joe Needoba, Ph.D., and Tawnya Peterson, Ph.D., to study the microbial ecology in the estuary.

“I am looking forward to working on plankton bloom dynamics, especially the blooms of Myrionecta rubra in the Columbia River estuary,” said Li. “I am interested in the physiology of this bloom forming ciliate, the mechanism of the bloom formation, and its impact on the biogeochemistry of the Columbia River estuary.”

The hiring of Li follows the departure of Lydie Herfort who initiated the project to study Myrionecta rubra, a photosynthetic ciliate that generates large, non-toxic blooms. Herfort spent the past five years studying the genetics of Myrionecta rubra and how it proliferates in the estuary.

“Herfort provided the foundation for the CMOP plankton bloom science initiative and has generated several hypotheses related to bloom formation and dynamics that Ben will now begin to test,” said Zuber.