Who am I?
I am an oceanographer and biogeochemist. In addition to being an MBL Fellow, I am a faculty member at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and an adjunct faculty at Brown University in the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences. I’m a sea-going scientist and since 1996 have led the Oceanic Flux Program (OFP) time-series, a nearly four decade long study of the particle flux in the deep Sargasso Sea off Bermuda.
What do I do?
I use the ecological signals that are embedded in the molecular, isotopic and elemental composition of environmental samples to study how processes operating across submicrobial to continental spatial scales interact to shape the world in which we live. A major focus of my research is on the ocean’s particle flux, a key process that regulates many aspects of ocean biology, nutrient and elemental distributions as well as the ocean’s ability to take up anthropogenic carbon dioxide. I also have research interests in biogenic aerosols and atmospheric transport, plant wax biomarkers, and the development of molecular and isotopic proxies for paleoclimate reconstruction.
Why do I come to the MBL?
As an MBL Fellow, I’m a scientist in the Ecosystems Center and my lab is located here. The Ecosystems Center is a wonderfully unique, collaborative work environment and a natural home for my research activities. Center scientists think about environmental processes on global scales and have a common focus on the long-term consequences of natural and man-made perturbations in ecosystem functioning. The MBL’s analytical facilities like the Stable Isotope Laboratory and Central Microscopy Facility are also great resources for my research.
What do I plan to do/work on at the MBL?
The OFP time-series is a sustained, deep ocean mooring program that has both a demanding, ship-based field component and a multifaceted analytical component here at the MBL which includes quantitative microphotography and image analysis of the recovered flux material, and detailed chemical analyses of its molecular, isotopic and elemental composition. I am involved in collaborative projects across a diversity of subject areas, from deep ocean biology to trace element cycling, including projects with University of Chicago scientists. Students from high school to graduate levels participate in my lab’s research activities. Each Fall I also teach and mentor undergraduates in the Semester in Environmental Science (SES) program. I’m particularly excited about the research being facilitated by the MBL’s Microbiome Center. Many of the key processes controlling the ocean’s particle cycle, such as organic matter degradation and biomineralization, are microbially mediated, and I hope to develop new multidisciplinary collaborations to study the vast and unique microbiomes of deep ocean particles and to explore the structural organization of this virtually unknown ecosystem using imaging tools at the MBL and Argonne National Lab.
See Maureen’s website: The Conte Research Group
Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences