I am interested the cycling of chemical elements in aquatic ecosystems. Specifically, I seek to understand the naturally occurring mechanisms governing chemical cycles, the rates at which these contributing processes occur, and how they are impacted by anthropogenic perturbation. During my PhD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I examined the role of reef sponges in the cycling of carbon and nitrogen, and how the metabolic processes of these organisms impacted local water quality. The tremendous water pumping and filtration activities mediated by marine sponges make them powerful, albeit frequently overlooked, drivers of carbon and nitrogen remineralization in locations where their populations thrive. In the Girguis lab, I will be examining the role of micro- and macrofaunal communities in controlling the transformation of dissolved gases in the deep ocean, particularly near hydrothermal vents.
Much of this mechanistic understanding comes from observational studies that are conducted in situ, and, increasingly, with the use of novel chemical analysis platforms and sensor systems. As such, my work in the Girguis lab includes a significant focus on the development, construction, and deployment of prototype, in situ instrumentation.