Kay Bidle
DMCS | Room 305C

Full CV | Short CV

Research Interests

Kay is a microbial oceanographer broadly defined. His research program focuses on microbial ecophysiology (especially eukaryotic phytoplankton), host-virus interactions/arms races, virology, molecular evolution and ecology, carbon flux biogeochemistry, and ecosystem processes. It merges physiology, biochemistry, and genome-enabled omics approaches to elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms that shape microbial interactions, their success in the oceans, and their influence on our natural world. Marine microbes (i.e., phytoplankton, bacteria, viruses) account for >95% of all oceanic biomass and their dynamic activities drive oceanic biogeochemical cycles. Yet, we are faced with fundamental open questions about their activity, molecular diversity, interactions, and evolution. Kay is particularly interested in how microbial arms races are regulated, especially those between algal hosts and viruses, and how specific classes of microbial genes influence microbial response to stress, ultimately influencing the ocean’s ecology and upper ocean biogeochemistry. It is the genetic imprint of marine microbes and their interaction with the environment and each other that shape how the ocean works and determine its response to environmental change. He has placed particular emphasis on host-virus interactions and how viruses impact carbon cycling, export and carbon sequestration. He currently leads a multi-institution NSF-funded Growing Convergence Research—one of NSF’s Top10 ideas—project blending biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, applied math and modeling to assess how viruses impact Earth’s carbon cycle and how prevailing ocean conditions exert fundamental controls on the predictive outcomes.

Short History

Kay received his B.S. in Biological Sciences and minor in Geography at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) in 1991. After graduation, Kay worked at the Center of Marine Biotechnology (COMB) in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor as a Faculty Research Assistant before obtaining his PhD in Marine Biology from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. There he examined the small-scale interactions between marine bacteria and diatoms and its mechanistic control on oceanic carbon cycling under the mentorship of Farooq Azam. Kay started at Rutgers as a Postdoctoral Fellow under Paul Falkowski and then joined the faculty in 2005. Over the course of his career, Kay has won several prestigious awards. These include the Raymond A. Lindeman Award from the Association of Limnology and Oceanography and Edward A. Frieman Award from Scripps for excellence in research. He was selected as a Marine Microbiology Initiative Investigator by the Gordon & Betty Moore  Foundation—one of 16 international scientists to receive this award— and a Kavli Fellow from the US National Academy of Sciences. At Rutgers, Kay has been selected for a Board of Trustees Research Fellow for Scholarly Excellence, a Faculty Scholar-Teacher Award and a Research Excellence Award. Most recently, Kay was awarded the Outstanding Graduate in the Natural and Mathematical Sciences by UMBC’s Alumni Association.

Teaching Efforts

Introduction to Oceanography (11:628:120:02/01:460:120:02)
Molecular Microbial Oceanography (11:628:404)
Advanced Technologies in Biosciences (11:126:444)
Guest Lectures in: Biological Oceanography: Water Column Ecosystems & Processes (16:712:520), Comparative Virology (11:126:407)


Molecular Microbial Oceanography (16:712:525, 16:681:602, 16:215:603)
Biochemistry Seminar Course–Topics in Molecular & Cell Biology (16:695:611:01)
Guest Lectures in: Biological Oceanography: Water Column Ecosystems & Processes (16:712:520), Comparative Virology (11:126:407), First Year Seminar in Ecology and Evolution (16:215: 601); First Year Seminar in Microbial Biology (16:682:521); Microbial Life (16:682:501)


I have worked hard to establish an impactful (and lasting) ‘Broader Impact Identity’ as a central to communicating my research and the importance of science in general to the broader community. Studies highlight a need to provide rich and robust opportunities for young people to access and participate in science both in and out of school, especially underrepresented groups and women, and to provide examples of varied STEM career paths. Allowing opportunities to engage and interact with data in multiple, authentic ways is an important component of STEM education for philosophical, pedagogical, and practical reasons. There is a particular need to bring the process of science, real-world datasets, models, and simulations into classrooms to inspire the next generation of scientists.

Using previous NSF-funded support, I created the ‘Tools of Science’ (ToS) (https://www.youtube.com/c/ToolsofScience), a series of educational videos and lesson plans designed to help learners explore the nature and process of science in the context of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). It includes short, educational videos on: ‘Asking Testable Questions’, ‘Collaborations’, ‘Sampling’, ‘Modeling’, ‘Proxies’, ‘Data As A Tool’, and ‘Creativity’, as well as an ‘ENIGMA’ case study. We continue to develop the ToS platform to engage a broader group of students and educators by developing new NGSS-ready materials and evaluating their impact on our target audiences.

Select Publications

Johns, C.T., K.G.V. Bondoc-Naumovitz, A. Matthews, P.G. Matson, M.D. Iglesias-Rodriguez, A.R. Taylor, H.L. Fuchs and K.D. Bidle. 2023. Adsorptive exchange of coccolith biominerals facilitates viral infection. Sci. Adv. 9:eadc8728.

Locke, H., K.D. Bidle, K. Thamatrakoln, C. Johns, J.A. Bonachela, B.D. Ferrell, and K.E. Wommack. 2022. Virioplankton, the carbon cycle, and our future ocean. Adv. Virus Res. 114: 67-146

Diaz, B.P., B. Knowles, C.T. Johns, C.P. Laber, K.G.V. Bondoc, E.L. Harvey, D. Lowenstein, H. Fredricks, J.E. Hunter, L. Haramaty, F. Natale, J. Graff, N. Haentjens, N. Baetge, K. Mojica, P. Gaube, E. Boss, C. Carlson, M.J. Behrenfeld, B.A.S. Van Mooy, and K.D. Bidle. 2021. Seasonal mixed layer dynamics shape phytoplankton physiology, viral infection, and accumulation in the North Atlantic. Nature Comm. 12(1): 6634.

Knowles, B., J. Bonachela, M. Behrenfeld, K.G.V. Bondoc, B.B. Cael, C.A. Carlson, N. Cieslik, B. Diaz, H.L. Fuchs, J. Graff, J. Grasis, K. Halsey, L. Haramaty, C.T. Johns, F. Natale, J.I. Nissimov, B. Schieler, K. Thamatrakoln, T.F. Thingstad, S. Våge, C. Watkins, T. Westberry, and K.D. Bidle. 2020. Temperate infection in a canonically virulent host-virus system. Nature Comm. 11:4626.

Nissimov, J.I, D. Talmy, L. Haramaty, H. Fredricks, U. Zelzion, M. Eren, R. Vandzura, C. Laber, B. Schieler, C. Johns, K.D. More, M.J.L. Coolen, M.J. Follows, D. Bhattacharya, B.A.S. Van Mooy and K.D. Bidle. 2019. Biochemical diversity of glycosphingolipid biosynthesis as a driver of Coccolithovirus competitive ecology. Environ. Microbiol. 21(6):2182–2197

Johns, C.T., J.I. Nissimov, A. Grubb, F. Natale, V. Knapp, A. Mui, H. Fredricks, B.A.S. Van Mooy and K.D. Bidle. 2019. The mutual interplay between calcification and coccolithovirus infection. Environ. Microbiol. 21(6):1896–1915

Bidle, K.D. 2015. The molecular ecophysiology of programmed cell death in marine phytoplankton. Annu. Rev. Mar. Sci., 7: 341-375.

Laber, C.P., J.E. Hunter, A.F. Carvalho, J.R. Collins, E.J. Hunter, B. Schieler, E. Boss, K. More, M. Frada, K. Thamatrakoln, C.M. Brown, L. Haramaty, J. Ossolinski, H. Fredricks, J.I. Nissimov, R. Vandzura, U. Sheyn, Y. Lehahn, R.J. Chant, A.M. Martins, M.J.L. Coolen, A. Vardi, G.R. DiTullio, B.A.S. Van Mooy, and K.D. Bidle. 2018. Coccolithovirus facilitation of carbon export in the North Atlantic. Nature Microbiol. 3:537–547

Pasulka, A.L., K. Thamatrakoln, S.H. Kopf, Y. Guan, B. Poulos, A. Moradian, M.J. Sweredoski, S. Hess, M.B. Sullivan, K.D. Bidle, V.J. Orphan. 2018. Interrogating marine virus-host interactions and elemental transfer with BONCAT and nanoSIMS-based methods. Environ. Microbiol. 20(2):671-692

Bidle, K.D. 2016. Programmed cell death in unicellular phytoplankton. Curr. Biol. 26(13): R594–R607

Thamatrakoln, K., B. Bailleul, C.M. Brown, M.Y. Gorbunov, A.B. Kustka, M. Frada, P. Joliot, P.G. Falkowski and K.D. Bidle. 2013. Death-specific protein in a marine diatom regulates photosynthetic responses to iron and light availability. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 10(50): 20123-20128.

Vardi, A., L. Haramaty, B.A.S. Van Mooy, H.F. Fredricks, S.A. Kimmance, A. Larsen, and K.D. Bidle. 2012. Host–virus dynamics and subcellular controls of cell fate in a natural coccolithophore population. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 109(47): 19327-19332.

Bidle, K.D. and A. Vardi. A chemical arms race at sea mediates algal host–virus interactions. 2011. Curr. Opin. Microbiol. 14(4): 449-457.

Bidle, K.A., L. Haramaty, N. Baggett, J. Nannen, and K.D. Bidle. 2010. Tantalizing evidence for archaeal caspase-like protein expression and activity and its role in cellular stress response. Environ. Microbiol. 12(5): 1161-1172.

Vardi, A, B. Van Mooy, H.F. Fredricks, K.J. Popendorf, J.E. Ossolinski L. Haramaty, and K.D. Bidle. 2009. Viral glycosphingolipids induce lytic infection and cell death in marine phytoplankton. Science 326 (5954): 861-865.

Bidle, K.D., S. Lee, D.R. Marchant and P.G. Falkowski. 2007. Fossil genes and microbes in the oldest ice on Earth. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA 104(33): 13455-13460.

Bidle, K.D., L. Haramaty, J. Barcelos-Ramos and P.G. Falkowski. 2007. Viral activation and recruitment of metacaspases in the unicellular coccolithophorid, Emiliania huxleyi. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104: 6049-6054.

Bidle, K.D. and P.G. Falkowski. 2004. Cell death in planktonic, photosynthetic microorganisms. Nature Reviews Microbiol. 2: 643-655.

Bidle, K.D., M. Manganelli and F. Azam. 2002. Regulation of diatom silicon and carbon preservation by temperature effects on bacterial activity. Science 298:1980-1984.

Bidle, K.D. and F. Azam. 1999. Accelerated dissolution of diatom silica by marine bacterial assemblages. Nature. 397:508-512.