Plankton: The Humble Base of the Ocean Ecosystem

Contemporary Science Issues and Innovations
February 14, 2017 Belmont Media Center, Belmont MA

Christopher Bowler, Ph.D., CNRS* Director of Research at the Institut de Biologie de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris; scientific coordinator of the Tara Oceans expedition; 2016-2017 Grass Fellow at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Research (Harvard).
*CNRS = Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, is the largest governmental research organization in France, and the largest fundamental science agency in Europe. Bowler group at Tara (European Molecular Biology Laboratory)

Dr. Bowler's research focus is a group of marine phytoplankton known as diatoms, and his projects involve a worldwide genetic analysis of ocean plankton. This work has produced the most complete picture to date of the diversity of plankton species. Plankton represent the foundation of the marine food chain. As such, their vitality determines the health of the ocean ecosystems in general. For this reason,there is much concern and interest in the impact of climate change and environmental pollution on the global ocean. Dr Bowler studies the genetic effects of environmental changes on ancient diatoms in an effort to predict the ability of today's plankton to adapt to anticipated stress caused by climate change. To analyze the evolutionary record he gathers plankton fossils from deep ocean deposits around the world.

Dr. Bowler is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). His awards include a Silver Medal from the CNRS (Centre Nationnal de la Recherche Scientifique) in 2010 and a Fondation Louis D. Grand Prix from the Institut de France in 2015.