Friday, September 4, 2015

UT Knoxville Seminar Visit

Earlier this week I was in Knoxville visiting the Department of Microbiology at the U. of Tennessee. I gave a seminar talking about our research on bet hedging in yeast, neutral evolution of ocean bacteria and cyanobacteria-nitrogen interaction. I also had the opportunity to meet a lot of their faculty and students and learned a lot. And we had a Lake Taihu project meeting with Steve Wilhelm and students. A busy time...

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Individuality of the Plankton

Dear Colleague:

You or someone you know may be interested in presenting at this session at the AGU/ASLO/TOS Ocean Sciences Meeting 21-26 February 2016 in New Orleans.

The Individuality of the Plankton: Single-cell analysis and agent-based modeling

Fascinating advances in individual and single cell analytical techniques (e.g., flow cytometry, chemical analyses, genomics) are providing an unprecedented view into the individuality of planktonic organisms (viro-, bacterio-, phyto- and zoo-plankton). Plankton populations, which have traditionally been viewed as homogeneous collections of individuals with identical properties and behavior, are now recognized to be heterogeneous, even in environments commonly considered to be well mixed, like the open ocean. At the same time, agent-based modeling (ABM, aka individual-based modeling, IBM) technology is evolving as a powerful approach to analyze and interpret these observations. These models provide insights into the mechanisms underlying the heterogeneity (e.g., mutations, stochastic gene expression, deterministic aging, microscale patchiness) and put them into ecological context (e.g., fitness benefits of bet hedging strategies). The combination of individual and single cell analyses and ABM has the potential to transform plankton and microbial ecology across the freshwater-marine continuum and in other environments. In this session, we aim to bring together scientists to share individual and single-cell research, to take a snapshot of the state-of-the-science in this field, and to connect researchers with synergistic skills and interests.

Ferdi Hellweger, Northeastern University,
Ramunas Stepanauskas, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences,
John Berges, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee,
Ben Twining, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences,

Here is a link to the session and abstract submission site.
Abstract Submittal Deadline = 23 September 2015.

Please feel free to forward this announcement on to other people that may be interested.



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cyanobacteria bloom season is here

The Charles River and Lake Erie are in the midst of massive cyanobacteria blooms. Northeastern’s media people interviewed me on the topic. See the link below for the interview and other links for the Charles:

Monday, July 27, 2015

The tradition continues: Swimming in the Charles

This is turning into a tradition (see my blog posts from  July 28, 2014 and July 16, 2013). Last weekend, I participated in the annual swim in the Charles River. See picture below (if you have good eyesight, I am the guy waving near the edge of the swimming area). Every year I am reminded how nice of a river we have in our backyard. And its swimmable! I hope someday we can jump in whenever we want.

All you ever wanted to know about swimming in the Charles:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Boston’s Snow Mountain

Last week, Northeastern’s media people interviewed me about the slowly melting snow pile left over from this year’s snowy winter. If it takes something like this to raise awareness about nonpoint source pollution, then so be it. You can check out the post here:

Monday, June 8, 2015

“Modeling in lakes”

Northeastern’s media people worked with Len Rubenstein, a very talented photographer/artist (, to make a picture of me for Northeastern’s “Making Tomorrow Happen” campaign (see link below). The idea of the picture (shown below) is to encapsulate my research, here modeling of urban water water quality to support swimming. It reminds me of when I was in graduate school working on a paper. I came up with a title that was something like “Modeling Arsenic Speciation in Lakes”. One of my collaborators told me that sounds like you are sitting in the lake with the laptop...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

IAGLR Conference Report

I am at the IAGLR meeting in Burlington, Vermont. Yesterday, Neil made a presentation about his Lake Taihu model and on Friday I will talk about my Anabaena - nitrogen interaction model. Sahar is also here, learning about cyanobacteria in the Great Lakes for her neutral evolution model. As expected, there is a lot of talk about Lake Erie at this meeting. The lake is experiencing severe cyanobacteria blooms, which led to the shutdown of Toledo’s drinking water supply last summer. As a civil engineer, I think of this as an engineered system failing (of course the lake is natural, but we have “engineered” what we put into it). This happens in our field, a prominent example is the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which dramatically collapsed the same year it opened. Following that failure, the structural engineering community figured out what they did wrong and changed how they design bridges. The environmental engineering community needs to engage in a similar effort now. Meeting web site: