Speaking to a live audience in Providence and over videolink to Woods Hole, Susanna Theroux defended her dissertation on November 28th, 2012. Theroux described her doctoral research that was completed in collaboration between the labs of Dr. Yongsong Huang at Brown University’s Department of Geological Sciences and Dr. Linda Amaral-Zettler at the MBL’s Bay Paul Center.
Theroux’s research focused on haptophyte algae that produce organic biomarkers used for paleoclimate reconstruction. Specifically, she identified novel species of haptophyte algae in lake environments that were responsible for producing alkenone lipids that record the temperature of the lake water going back through time. By combining field studies in Greenland and North Dakota, culture studies and DNA sequencing in Woods Hole and organic analyses in Providence, the project was able to identify novel species of algae and their individual lipid signatures. This research also provided new insights into haptophyte bloom dynamics in lake environments and will impact how future geologic records of haptophyte biomarkers are interpreted. This research was supported by grants to Huang and Amaral-Zettler from the National Science Foundation and the Brown SEED fund and an American Association of University Women fellowship to Theroux.
In January, Theroux will be starting a postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute.
The Brown-MBL Graduate Program attracts a diverse group of talented and dedicated students from around the world. Some students spend their first years taking courses at Brown and do not make their base at MBL full-time until their second or third year in the program. Other students remain based in Providence for the duration of their studies but work closely with one or more MBL scientists as they pursue their research. Still other students engage in research that requires them to be at the MBL from the start of their studies. Sixteen graduate students currently are enrolled in the program, ten students have graduated from the program with doctorates and four others have left early with a masters degree.