I am a marine microbiologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. My research is centered on the microbiomes of marine animals, and especially those that are threatened or endangered including marine mammals and corals. Research in my laboratory uses molecular and microscopy-based techniques to characterize animal-microbiomes. I seek to understand the potential for microorganisms to aid in the health of their host, or to provide information about the ocean environment that these animals inhabit.
Whales swimming in the ocean are never really alone. Even if one swims by itself with no other whales for miles around, it still has company—the tiny microbes that live on its skin. For a long time, these microbes went...