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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. He has more than a decade of experience culturing microbial eukaryotes (e.g., microalgae and protozoa, collectively known as ‘protists’) from diverse aquatic habitats including the open ocean, coastal regions, deep-sea hydrothermal vents, hypersaline and alkaline ponds, and from the sea and sea-ice near Antarctica. 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. His currently-funded research projects include components study protistan diversity but also to investigate specific interactions between marine protists and bacteria. 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. In addition to his formal academic training, e has worked as a science consultant for an algae-based biotech startup in Los Angeles, and is currently pursuing additional opportunities in this sector alongside his NSF-funded research projects.


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. At ATCC he oversaw accessioning and authentication of a wide range of environmentally relevant bacteria and archaea, many from extreme environments. 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.


Julie Sexton, Head Curator

Julie started as an assistant curator at the CCMP, Bigelow Laboratory in 1989, transferring algae, and coordinating shipments of algae. She received a BA in Biology from Clark University, her first job out of college in the clinical bacteriology lab at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston where she learned sterile technique. After that, she worked for Robert Weinberg at MIT culturing fibroblast cells and viruses, Enzio Merler at Children’s Hospital doing assays on macrophage lymphokines, on to U. Mass Medical Center in Worcester assaying Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) on Raji Cells using fluorescent antibody markers to explore the genetic disease, X-linked proliferative syndrome. Back in Boston, she worked for Stuart Orkin studying thalassemia using Maxim and Gilbert sequencing techniques. After a short stint at Jackson Laboratory working with mice, it was back at MIT studying the large subunit of yeast RNA polymerase II gene through creating a yeast mutant and with M13 sequencing techniques . After two years off, she returned to science, but this time in Maine using tissue culture skills and knowledge of nucleic acid purification to work at the Provasoli Guillard Center for Culture of Marine Phytoplankton, in 1999 becoming the curator of algae. Today she uses er expertise to not only manage day to day operation of the Collection but also trouble shoots algal growth problems, processes new strains, decides which strains to cull, re-isolates algal strains, solicits other strains, cryopreserves NCMA collection holdings and helps teach the algal culturing techniques course offered at Bigelow Laboratory.


Mark Hurd, Assistant Algal Curator

Mark has been with NCMA since 2015, and is quickly learning all the ropes to assist in being 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.


Joan Blancette, Assistant Algal Curator

Joan has a BS in Biology from the University of Southern Maine.  She spent 5 years working as a quality technician at ImmuCell Corp.  It was here that she learned a wide range of skills from mammalian tissue culture to assay development.  After a brief hiatus in Peru, she explored her interest in marine science while working as a PSP Technician at Maine's Department of Marine Resources Division of Public Health.  Joan has recently landed at the NCMA.


Dr. Mike Preston, Research Associate

Dr. Preston is a former medical microbiologist whose work included studying the immunology and pathogenesis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa corneal infections. He also worked on vaccination to induce protective antibodies to mucoid strains of P. aeruginosa that infect the lungs of kids with cystic fibrosis. His work resulted in the production of a set of genetically engineered human monoclonal antibodies that were protective against these mucoid strains in animal models of disease and currently being tested in human trials. 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. In addition to his work at the NCMA, Mike and his wife, Amy own and run the general store in the small rural town of Alna, ME. They also have a productive fruit farm, with wild Maine blueberries and an orchard with many varieties of apples and other tree fruits.


Rimar Reed, Sales Administrator

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.

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