A graphical view of tens of millions of bases of DNA extracted from a marine microbial community found in Puget Sound (photo: Vaughn Iverson)
Tens of millions of bases of DNA extracted from a marine microbial community (photo: Vaughn Iverson)

The Simons Foundation announced on June 16 the launch of the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE), funded through a major grant that will be distributed among numerous universities for research focused on microbes in the ocean. Ginger Armbrust, professor and director of the School of Oceanography at the University of Washington College of the Environment, is one of eight investigators to receive funding to conduct research. She will also serve on the SCOPE steering committee along with colleagues from the University of Hawaii, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California at Santa Cruz.

“Marine microbes are the unseen majority of organisms in the ocean,” says Ginger. “It’s very exciting to be part of the team of scientists that will work to broaden our understanding of how marine microbes help sustain the health of our planet. We’ll do that by combining the newest environmental DNA sequencing methods and innovative ocean observation technology with new approaches in ecological theory and modeling.”

Ginger Armbrust (photo: Benjamin Drummond)
Ginger Armbrust (photo: Benjamin Drummond)

SCOPE will advance our understanding of the microbial processes that dominate the global ocean through the intensive study of a site 100km north of Oahu. Microbes are found in every environment across the planet, and are key to sustaining ecosystems of all types. In the ocean, microbes capture solar energy, catalyze key biogeochemical transformations of important elements, produce and consume greenhouse gases, and compose the base of the marine food web. Even though scientists understand that microbes are essential to how our oceans work, they are only beginning to scratch the surface in terms of understanding the complexity of the roles that microbes play.

SCOPE comprises eight founding Simons Investigators, and additional investigators will be chosen by competition.

SCOPE is now accepting applications for SCOPE Investigator Awards through a Request for Applications.