Dr. Caroline Fortunato is a microbial ecologist and postdoctoral scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA. Her research focuses on the phylogenetic and functional diversity of microbial communities from gradient-driven ecosystems, including coastal oceans and the deep sea. Caroline received her Ph.D. in 2012 from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science where she studied the spatial and temporal variation of microbial communities across the river to ocean environmental gradients of the Columbia River and adjacent coastal ocean.

Currently, her research focuses on determining metabolic potential and expression patterns of active microbial communities across the variable biogeochemical gradients of hydrothermal vents using both metagenomic and metatranscriptomic approaches. On theFalkor, Caroline will be collecting DNA and RNA for metagenomic analyses from geochemically distinct vent fluids and will be performing incubation experiments to identify the key autrophic microbes impacting rates of carbon production at Axial Seamount.