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NCMA and Center for Algal Innovations (CAI) STAFF

Dr. Mike Lomas, Director. Dr. Lomas was appointed as Director of the Provasoli-Guillard National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota (NCMA) in January 2014. Lomas, a phytoplankton physiological ecologist, became a Senior Research Scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in the fall of 2012.  Prior to his move north he conducted research at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (formerly Bermuda Biological Station for Research) for ~12 years where he ran a fully supported sea-going research team.  Lomas holds a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the University of Maryland at College Park. His areas of research include understanding the physiology and ecology, and interactions between the two, of natural marine phytoplankton populations through directed experimentation and observation.

Dr. Peter Countway, Associate Director for Algae and Protozoa. Dr. Countway is the Associate Director for Algae and Protozoa at the NCMA. Dr. Countway’s expertise is focused on studying the diversity and dynamics of microbial eukaryote assemblages using a combination of classical oceanographic techniques, microscopy, and cutting-edge molecular approaches with the goal of understanding how the vast microbial diversity in the world’s oceans contributes to the maintenance of ecosystem functions. Dr. Countway received his MS degree in Marine Science (bacterial biogeochemistry) from the College of William and Mary at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and his Ph.D. in Biology (protistan molecular ecology) from the University of Southern California, where he also conducted his postdoctoral research within the Division of Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography. 

Dr. David Emerson, Associate Director for Bacteriology. Dr. David Emerson is Associate Director for Bacteriology of the NCMA, and has established the tools for doing accessioning of a variety of bacteria and archaea. Prior to coming to Bigelow in 2007, he worked for 11 years at the American Type Culture Collection, where he worked as a research scientist in the Bacteriology Collection. He has published papers on using MALDI-TOF, and bacterial barcoding as novel authentication techniques, as well as on novel cryo-preservatives and media formulations. In addition to his work with the NCMA he heads a world-leading laboratory team investigating the role that iron-oxidizing bacteria play in the global iron cycle. He has a Ph.D in Microbiology from Cornell University and did postdoctoral research at the Center for Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University and at Aarhus University.

 Mark Hurd, Associate Algal Curator. Mark has been with NCMA since 2015, and is the first point of contact for culture orders and information requests.  Mark received his degree from SMCC in 2015 in Biotechnology.  His prior experience in the restaurant business has set him well for working in a teamwork environment as well as the high degree of organization required to manage the whereabouts of nearly 3,000 algal strains.

 Kristin Heidenreich, Associate Algal Curator. Kristin has a BS in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and a MS in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina. During both her undergraduate and graduate careers, her area of interest was phytoplankton ecology and physiology, learning skills related to general phytoplankton growth parameters (growth rates, cell sizes, etc.), phytoplankton pigment analysis, and microscopy techniques (light, confocal, and scanning electron microscopy). In addition to working with phytoplankton, Kristin has had experience with zooplankton samples from the Gulf of Mexico and commercial fishery species in the Bering Sea during previous employment/volunteer experiences.   

 Kerry Dykens, Assistant Algal Curator - Macroalgae. Kerry’s enthusiasm for sustainability, ocean health, and more specifically, seaweed, ultimately led her to the role of Macroalgal Curator at Bigelow. She received a Master’s degree in Oceanography from the University of New Hampshire, and a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Wentworth Institute of Technology. She has worked on developing early-detection technology for the red tide algae, Karenia Brevis, explored the potential impacts climate change may have on microbially-mediated geochemical cycles in the Gulf of Maine, and cultivated kelp from spores in the lab to blades “planted” in the fresh cold waters of Casco Bay (to be later harvested for products). At the NCMA, Kerry is responsible for maintaining, propagating, and preserving the macroalgal strains of the NCMA collection. She monitors growth, size, color, and overall health via microscopy and keeps detailed records and photo journals of the strains. She is excited by the potential impact of these seaweeds, as they are important to scientific, medical, and academic research, and to sustainable regenerative food production, and more.

Rimar Reed, Office Manager. Rimar is responsible for carrying out a wide range of administrative and practical tasks in support of sales, customer communications, order processing, shipping, administration of the culture course and general department support needs.  Rimar has a BSBA in Accounting from Hawaii Pacific University.

Dr. Mike Preston, Senior Research Associate. Dr. Preston is a former medical microbiologist whose work included studying the immunology and pathogenesis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa corneal infections. At the NCMA, Mike is in charge of setting up the marine bacteria collection as well as supporting the algal curators and managing and delivering special orders to customers.

 Jay Wheeler, Safety Officer/Senior Research Associate. Jay has a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies and Biology from the University of Georgia and a MS in Oceanography from the University of Delaware. Jay has extensive experience in the fields of marine ecology and oceanography, including working with both the Bermuda Atlantic Time Series and the Hawaii Ocean Time-series programs. Alongside his role as the Bigelow safety officer, Jay joins the NCMA/CAI team as a senior research associate assisting with large-scale algal cultivation projects for proprietary and conceptual uses.

 Sean Boyd, Senior Research Associate. Sean holds a BS in Aquaculture from Dalhousie University, Faculty of Agriculture, and a MS in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He has a wealth of experience in commercial as well as research-based shellfish hatcheries overseeing the mass culture of the shellfish industries paramount algal species. ISean has been with the CAI team since July 2021.

 Rachele Spadafore, Research Technician. Rachele holds a BS in Pathobiology from the University of Connecticut and an MS in Marine Biology from Northeastern University. Before arriving at Bigelow, Rachele contributed to research projects centered around marine diseases, including parasites in oysters and Stoney Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) in coral. In addition to her work in research, Rachele has also spent time working in a commercial oyster hatchery, learning about the growing process. Rachele joined the CAI team in May 2022.

 Sara Woodruff, Patent Research Technician. Sara earned her BA at the University of Rhode Island, where she studied Animal Sciences and Writing & Rhetoric. Sara later went on to the Bel-Rea Institute of Animal Technology, graduating with honors. Her scientific and technical writing background accompanied with her strong medically-based background in biology, dissection and microscopic cytological evaluation have proved to be essential here at Bigelow. Sara has contributed to research supporting horseshoe crab and loggerhead seaturtle conservation projects..