My research focusses on the role of metals in marine ecosystems. Though often solely regarded as toxins, metals are required as nutrients for the growth of all organisms. Metals form the reactive centres of enzymes, enabling these to perform biochemical functions, such as oxygen-transport or photosynthesis. As such, trace metals are central to the health of individual organisms as well as entire ecosystems. On the other hand, elevated concentrations of metals can have detrimental effect to individual organisms as well as ecosystems and this double sided nature of metals is what inspires my research. Specific research foci:
• Determination of trace elements in seawater samples to establish drivers (trace nutrients) or stressors in marine ecosystems. Especially in the (sub)Antarctic regions, trace metal availability regulates primary production. The role of iron is well established, but the role of other metals is becoming more evident as well.
• Development and application of ICP-MS based and flow injection methods for the analysis of trace elements in sea water to expand our capabilities to determine levels of trace nutrient levels, contaminants as well as tracers of ocean processes.
• Trace metal clean bio assays to assess trace nutrient stress.
• Ultra clean sampling of open ocean regions for trace elements; to get reliable data on trace elements and their functions in ecosystems, utmost care must be taken during sampling and sample handling to avoid contamination.