20th International Conference on Harmful Algae

20th International Conference on Harmful Algae

Holly, Olivia, and Hannah attended the 20th International Conference on Harmful Algae in Hiroshima, Japan, November 5-10, 2023! Holly presented the EPA project looking at HAB response to agricultural run-off (PI- Ross Clark; CCWG), Olivia presented a poster on her thesis project measuring phytoplankton response to agricultural plastics, and Hannah gave an ignite talk and presented a poster highlighting EBL’s monitoring station at the Monterey Wharf as part of CalHABMAP. We left the meeting with loads of information, fresh ideas, and new collaborations to explore!! Already looking forward to Chile in 2025!


EBL Takes a Field Trip to the Monterey Wharf Sampling Site

EBL recently had the chance to participate in a site visit with members from NOAA’s Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) Federal Advisory Committee! This program funds our weekly monitoring station (https://calhabmap.org/monterey-wharf ) so we can continue to provide key data on harmful algal bloom species and associated water parameters to stakeholders. Hannah and Holly were on hand to demonstrate net tow sampling and standardized reporting of water quality data. “June Gloom” was nowhere to be found, as sunny skies greeted the group!

Photo credit: Alex Harper, CenCOOS.

Meet out REU Student of Summer 2023- Carissa Tinney

Carissa Tinney- REU Student of Summer 2023


My name is Carissa Tinney and I am a biochemistry major with a minor in environmental studies at California State University, Sacramento and am part of CSUMB’s REU (research experience for undergraduates) program this summer. I will be working with Dr. Holly Bowers and Olivia Pawlyk at MLML’s Environmental Biotechnology Lab studying how agricultural microplastics impact phytoplankton. My interests lie in environmental biotechnology, with special interest in water quality and algae. In my free time I love to read, garden, cook and travel when I can. I’m very excited to work at the lab this summer and learn as much as possible!

The Pond Doctors Compete in the Algae Prize Competition 2022-2023

In April, the members of the Environmental Biotechnology Lab (Dr. Holly Bowers, Olivia Pawlyk, and Hannah McGrath) and Biological Oceanography Lab (Dr. Sarah Smith, Katie Duncan, and Katie Roy) traveled to Golden, Colorado to compete as the Pond Doctors in the first 2022-2023 Algae Prize Competition hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and sponsored by The Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office and the Algae Foundation. The Algae Prize competition was geared towards developing novel solutions to support large scale algae commercialization. The Pond Doctors presented their work in developing and testing a tool that measures nitrogen stress of microalgae in near real-time, specifically diatoms which are a group of ecologically and industrially relevant microalgae. It was an honor and privilege for our graduate students to be a part of this competition and meet so many passionate and talented individuals.


Giving Diatoms a New Home in the EBL

In the month of March, our graduate student Hannah has been busy culturing and creating a museum of diatoms from Monterey Bay. All of the newest diatom EBL members are photographed below. These diatom species include detonula, Lauderia, Licmophora, Coscinodiscus, Thalassiosira, Ditylum, P. nitzschia, and Asterionellopsis. We look forward to keep growing up diatoms in the lab especially since spring tends to be diatom season!


Happy New Year! 2023 Updates from EBL

Although the New Year has just begun, the lab has been busier than ever. Hannah is working on testing the efficiency and sensitivity of qPCR assays for harmful algae bloom species such as Akashiwo and Cochlodinium. In addition, Hannah is continuing to routinely monitor the Monterey Wharf every Wednesday to document phytoplankton community composition. Meanwhile, Olivia is starting to ramp up her thesis work where she plans to investigate the effect agricultural plastics have on phytoplankton community composition. This involves lots of planning, collecting species of interest, culturing, and constructing. Lastly, Holly has been closely working alongside her graduate students with current grants/projects. In addition, she recently wrote a couple new grant proposals! (more information to come shortly).

Even though the start of our new year has been busy, the members of EBL have also had a lot of fun. In January, we had a January birthday bash (since all of the EBL members have January birthdays!) which involved lots of baked goods/sweets, live music, dancing, mingling, and feeding goat and sheep. One of our favorite things to do as a lab is going out to lunch together (our favorite being Thai food).




Recap of Summer 2022

What a busy and productive summer this lab has had!! This past summer we had three student workers (Olivia Pawlyk, Jasmine Ruiz, and Hannah McGrath) in the lab alongside Dr. Holly Bowers. Olivia was working on the EPA grant. This included prepping for experiments, setting up mesocosm bag experiments, preliminary flask experiments, and growing/isolating cultures in the incubator. Jasmine was brought in from UC Santa Cruz to help with CenCOOS Monterey Wharf sampling. This happens every Wednesday morning. This is a collaborative project with other locations along the California coast (https://calhabmap.org/.) It allows us to see a snapshot of what phytoplankton communities are populating in different locations at the same time. Hannah is a new incoming MLML student! The last couple weeks of August she came into the lab to shadow Jasmine because she will eventually take that job over. We are excited for the rest of the year!

Five-year NOAA cooperative agreement has been renewed!

EBL has been monitoring phytoplankton, with an emphasis on Harmful Algal Bloom species, at the Monterey Wharf for over a decade! These data feed into the larger HABMAP initiative that provides a weekly snapshot of HAB activity along the California coast. We are part of The Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System which has received a 5-year renewal from NOAA’s U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) Office to continue this work and expand monitoring capabilities.