My dissertation research at Columbia University and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has taken me across the high seas on big expeditions hunting for the smallest organisms. As a biological oceanographer, I use gene and genome sequencing to study a nitrogen fixing cyanobacterium called Trichodesmium that lives in the tropical open ocean. I’m interested in how they interact with the other bacteria that live on them—yes, Trichodesmium is a bacterium that has it’s own microbiome! Just like humans have a gut microbiome that helps us digest our food and fight off harmful pathogens, my hypothesis is that the Trichodesmium microbiome enables survival in the harsh, low nutrient environment of the open ocean. I’ve also capitalized on incredible research expeditions across the Pacific and Atlantic to design outreach events for kids that teach biology and ecology concepts using critters that live in the ocean.