Three from MIT named Marine Microbiology Initiative investigators

Three MIT researchers were named Marine Microbiology Initiative investigators on Monday by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation — an honor that includes funding for pioneering research in the field of marine microbial ecology.

Edward DeLong, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) and Department of Biological Engineering; Michael Follows, a senior research scientist in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences; and Roman Stocker, an associate professor in CEE, were among 16 awardees nationwide. MIT was the only institution to have more than one investigator named this year.

The funding — up to $35 million over five years combined for all the recipients — will enable researchers to explore how the trillions of microscopic organisms at the base of the ocean’s food webs interact with each other and their environment, according to a press release from the foundation. The research will also provide new insights — and lead to new and exciting questions — about our basic understanding of ocean ecosystems and issues such as climate change.

“Too often, the most innovative scientists are hampered by funding that binds them to a solid, but conservative research agenda,” explained Bruce Alberts, a foundation board member and editor-in-chief of Science magazine. “These awards give scientists in marine microbiology the freedom and flexibility to take more risks, forge unusual collaborations and, ultimately, make noteworthy, new discoveries.”

The current cohort of 16 investigators was chosen through an extensive review process that considered more than 180 applications.

Since it was launched in 2004, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Marine Microbiology Initiative has accelerated the rate of discovery in the field of microbial oceanography. For example, through supporting DNA sequencing and new sensor technologies, the Marine Microbiology Initiative has enabled researchers to reveal the immense diversity of microbes in the ocean and the important roles they play in regulating both the ocean environment and our atmosphere.

Read the full release: