Full Name
Alexandra Z. Worden

Senior Scientist

Alexandra Worden
Contact Information
Ph.D., Ecology, Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, 2000;
B.A., History, Wellesley College, concentration, Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sci. (MIT), 1992
MBL Affiliation
Research Area
Lab Website

Dr. Alexandra Z. Worden’s research focuses on the fate and transport of carbon in the oceans, with an emphasis on the biological entities responsible for biogeochemical transformations in the context of the broader ocean milieu. Her current research focuses on photosynthetic microorganisms, integrating across genomics, evolutionary biology, and ecology to explore microbial roles in carbon dioxide uptake and fate. Her group develops methods and technologies for sea-going studies of protists and their viruses, and for quantifying their contributions to global primary production, activities in the deep sea, and trajectories in future oceans. In addition to pioneering methods for targeting uncultivated microbes in the ocean, alongside their activities and interactions, her lab has focused on developing methods for investigating environmentally relevant algae in culture under climate change simulations, and methods for genetic manipulation of these species. In addition to pursuing these research areas at the MBL, and serving as Professor Part Time at the University of Chicago’s Department of Geophysical Sciences, Worden’s next undertakings focus on initiating cohort-based educational programs that broaden representation of individuals from diverse backgrounds in the sciences.

Worden holds a B.A. in History from Wellesley College where she concentrated on post-colonial Africa, while also studying Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at M.I.T. During her Ph.D. at University of Georgia’s Odum School of Ecology, she examined growth and mortality controls acting on marine cyanobacteria as a NASA Earth Systems Science Fellow. In 2000, she became an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, there showing that tiny unicellular eukaryotes contributed significantly to marine photosynthesis. Prior to coming to the MBL she has held Professorships in the USA, as well as Germany, where she founded the Ocean EcoSystems Biology Unit in Kiel. Among other honors, she is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, a Fellow of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany, a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, and a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

Alexandra Z. Worden works with
Stephen Giovannoni
Oregon State University