My role in EPOCA Arctic
I’m going to Svalbard as a member of the benthic survey, mainly to sample and process sediment to look at the structure and function of bacterial communities living in it. We’re interested in what bacteria are there, what they are doing (especially with respect to nitrogen cycling, e.g. nitrification and denitrification), and how ocean acidification might affect these processes (studies 1, 2 and 3)). I’ll be extracting bacterial DNA from the sediment and then using molecular techniques such as PCR, T-RFLP, DGGE and cloning to identify the bacteria and look at the genes involved in functions such as denitrification. I’ll also be helping generally around the lab, running the acidification systems, sampling and processing.
My thoughts about the trip
I am really excited about going to the Arctic. I’ve always been interested in polar research, and this is a great opportunity for me to work with other European scientists and learn loads more about benthic ecology. I’m also looking forward to being in such a remote and beautiful location, and would love to see a polar bear – from a distance!
More about my research
I’m now in the second year of my PhD, which I’m doing at Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the University of Sheffield. I am investigating the relationship between burrowing shrimp that live in sediment and the bacterial communities that live in their burrows, and how they impact on important biogeochemical processes like nitrogen cycling. Once I’ve got a good understanding of this relationship, I’ll be researching how ocean acidification might affect it – for instance, if the shrimps’ behaviour changes, will that affect how the bacterial communities cycle nitrogen back into the water column? To carry out my PhD, I use a combination of molecular laboratory work, nutrient flux measurements, field work, and mesocosm experiments.