Lauren Seyler awarded a Fulbright Fellowship


Lauren Seyler, a graduate student in the Graduate Program in Oceanography, has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to study in Roscoff, France with Dr. Colomban de Vargas. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Ms. Seyler’s Ph. D. research involves studying a group of microorganisms known as crenarchaea, an ancient lineage of life that was discovered in the deep ocean in the early 1990s. The primary tool Lauren employs in her studies is stable isotope probing (SIP; with 13C and 15N labels) which tracks the uptake and incorporation of organic compounds into the newly synthesized DNA of microbial populations. However, she has also participated in a joint EU-US workshop on marine bioinformatics. The opportunity to study at the Station Biologique de Roscoff is tremendously important since it is home to an integrated pipeline of data acquisition methods, bioinformatics tools, and data processing that allows Dr. de Vargas and his colleagues to sort and examine ocean biodiversity on an unprecedented scale. Dr. de Vargas investigates the evolutionary relationship between planktonic microorganisms in the open ocean and he is the scientific coordinator of Tara Oceans, an international research project that has collected approximately 27,800 open ocean samples taken from 153 sites all over the globe. This constitutes the largest modern-day collection of plankton sampled “end-to-end” around the world. As a visiting American scientist, Ms. Seyler would be the first to study the crenarchaeal populations in the Tara Oceans samples, helping to understand how the archaea function in the world’s oceans and how their activity influences plankton ecology and the global carbon cycle. Lauren also plans to volunteer time at the research station’s aquarium, interacting with both tourists and locals, and to represent the Fulbright program to a wider audience within the thriving seaside community of Roscoff, France.