Trained as a molecular and cell biologist, my research focuses on characterizing the underlying molecular mechanisms that have contributed to the ecological success of phytoplankton. Despite representing <1% of the Earth’s biomass, this microscopic slice of the planet contributes nearly 50% of global primary productivity and plays a role in nearly every major biogeochemical cycle including carbon, nitrogen, and silicon. To understand how these organisms will respond to future predicted changes in the ocean, we need to understand the molecular and biochemical mechanisms that govern their physiological responses. My research combines molecular, biochemical, and biophysical techniques with large scale genomic and transcriptomic studies to answer fundamental questions about the physiology and functional ecology of this globally important group of organisms. Using laboratory model systems of diatoms and coccolithophores, we seek to understand how these organisms respond to environmental stress (e.g. light and nutrient availability, viral infection) and the factors that control their growth and productivity. We then extend these culture-based observations to natural populations on oceanographic research cruises using observational and deck-board manipulative studies.
I grew up in California and received my B.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from the University of California, San Diego. My first introduction to academic research was as an undergraduate in a Developmental Neurobiology lab at the Salk Institute. After college, I got a job at a biotech company involved in sequencing the first human genome. After 3 months, I realized I much preferred academic research and the freedom and creativity in science it allowed. I then got a job as a Research Associate in an Immunology lab at Stanford University where I conducted HIV-related research. I discovered a love for research, but wanted to apply the skills and knowledge I acquired in the biomedical field to an environmentally-related one. After completing a non-thesis driven Master’s at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station, I went on to the PhD program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. I came to Rutgers as a postdoctoral researcher in 2007 and was later promoted to Assistant Research Professor.
I currently do not teach in a formal classroom, but I mentor and train undergraduates and graduate students. I have served as a undergraduate faculty advisor to students enrolled in the RIOS and Aresty programs, as well as those conducting senior honor’s thesis work.
Collins JR, BR Edwards, K Thamatrakoln, JE Ossolinksi, GR DiTullio, KD Bidle, SC Doney, and BAS Van Mooy (2015). The multiple fates of sinking particles in the North Atlantic Ocean. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 29(9): 1471-1494
Thamatrakoln K, B Bailleul, CM Brown, MY Gorbunov, AB Kustka, M Frada, P Joliot, PG Falkowski, and KD Bidle (2013). A “Death-Specific Protein” in a marine diatom regulates photosynthetic responses to acute iron limitation and high light. PNAS 110 (50): 201230-20128
Thamatrakoln K, O Korenovska, AK Niheu, and KD Bidle (2012). Whole-genome expression analysis reveals a role for death-related genes in stress acclimation of the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana. Environmental Microbiology 14(1): 67-81
Curnow P, Senior L, Knight M, Thamatrakoln K, Hildebrand M, and Booth P (2012). Expression, purification, and reconstitution of a diatom silicon transporter. Biochemistry 51(18): 3776-3785
Thamatrakoln K and AB Kustka (2009). When to say when: can excessive drinking explain silicon uptake in diatoms. BioEssays 31:322-327
Vardi A, K Thamatrakoln, KD Bidle, and PG Falkowski (2008). Diatom genomes come of age. Genome
Biology 9(12): 245-250