Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith

Faculty Member

Department:  Biological Oceanography



phone: 831-771-4482
office: MLML Main Lab


Sarah is a biological oceanographer who studies the ecology, evolution, and physiology of marine phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are a diverse group of organisms and their photosynthesis fuels marine food webs, shaping biogeochemical cycles of carbon and other important elements (including nitrogen, iron, silica). Sarah’s research is largely focused on diatoms, an important and evolutionarily unique group of eukaryotic phytoplankton that often dominate coastal oceans and other nutrient-rich ocean environments. Diatoms are one of the most well-developed groups of model organisms for molecular studies, with several genomes and genetic tools currently available and Sarah’s research uses a wide variety of traditional and multi-omics tools to better understand the biology of diatoms and other phytoplankton in culture and field-based studies.

Research in the lab also focuses on improving cultivation of diatoms and other marine microbes for the production of renewable biomass used in biofuels, aquaculture, or other industrial applications. Systems biology, genetic engineering, and synthetic biology approaches are also used to understand and optimize useful traits of algae for production at scale.

Research Interests:
  • Microbial ecology
  • Comparative and functional genomics, systems biology
  • Algal physiology
  • Metagenomics and metatranscriptomics
  • Genetic engineering, synthetic biology
  • Algal biofuels and industrial marine microbiology
Curriculum Vitae: