Hilary Palevsky

My research, advised by Drs. Paul Quay and Ginger Armbrust, investigates how the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Phytoplankton play an important role in the ocean's carbon cycle by converting CO2 to organic carbon, some of which is then exported to the deep ocean - a process known as the "biological pump."

I use novel fine spatial-scale applications of flow cytometry, which identifies phytoplankton populations, and dissolved gas measurements, which can be used to quantify the rate and efficiency of biological carbon export to try to better understand the mechanisms that control the biological pump. For my master's research, I used these methods in the Gulf of Alaska to identify a hot spot of intense biological carbon export and oceanic CO2 uptake characterized by a phytoplankton community distinct from the phytoplankton in surrounding regions, indicating the potential significance of both fine-spatial scale processes and of unique phytoplankton assemblages in driving the biological pump. My current research applies these methods in the North Pacific, using a Chinese container ship a sampling platform, which allows for multiple basin-wide transects over an annual cycle.

Between earning a B.A. in Geology from Amherst College in 2007 and beginning my graduate studies at UW in 2010, I spent a year traveling and studying the interactions between scientists, fishers and policy-makers in North Atlantic cod fisheries as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow (you can find the blog from this project here)  and two years teaching marine science to K-12 students on traditionally-rigged schooners in Long Island Sound.