Kerry Whittaker – Marine Ecology
Visiting Assistant Professor 2015-2017
Professor Whittaker’s research interests focus on the ecological, physical, and evolutionary processes that generate and maintain diversity in the ocean. She focuses on the vast molecular and functional diversity of marine phytoplankton, particularly diatoms. Using molecular approaches, her work explores global structure of and gene flow among phytoplankton populations over time. She is particularly interested in the relative influence of dispersal and environmental selection on the evolution of marine phytoplankton, as single cells constantly drifting with the tides and currents. Marine phytoplankton play an important role in regulating Earth’s climate through the fixation of carbon, and as a vital step in the biological carbon pump. By identifying those factors influencing phytoplankton population structure, diversity, and evolution, Professor Whittaker hopes to better understand their potential for adaptation in a rapidly changing ocean.