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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. 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. 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. 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.

 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.   

 Olivia Barberi, Assistant Algal Curator

Olivia holds a BS in Marine Science from the University of Maine and a MS in Marine Science from the University of New England. Developing a research background in marine ecology, she has worked on studies involving coastal aquaculture, algal-associated bacteria, and planktonic food webs. Olivia has additional experience with molecular biology techniques and quality control systems.

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. 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, have a productive fruit farm, with wild Maine blueberries and an orchard with many varieties of apples and other tree fruits.

 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. He came to Bigelow after 10 years in the biology department at Duke University. 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. In addition, Sean has spent time in Biogeochemistry laboratories focused on terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and has furthermore contributed to studies ranging from phytoplankton to macro-invertebrates. Sean 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.