Colleen Hansel is a Senior Scientist and Biogeochemist in the Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Prior to joining the scientific staff at WHOI in 2012, she was an Associate Professor at Harvard University, joint between the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She received her B.Sc. degree in Geology from California State University, Sacramento in 1997, her M.Sc. degree in Soil Biogeochemistry from the University of Idaho in 1999, and her Ph.D. in Biogeochemistry from Stanford University in 2004. She is a Fellow of the American Academy for Microbiology and President of the Biogeosciences section of the American Geophysical Union.
Colleen has more than 20 years of experience studying terrestrial and marine biogeochemistry, including controls on the metabolic and biological diversity of natural and man-made ecosystems. Over the past decade, her group has investigated the chemical ecology of coral reefs, focused on the formation and fate of short-lived chemicals that are important for coral and sponge function and health. Her group is particularly interested in reactive oxygen species (ROS), short-lived oxygen containing molecules, that paradoxically are both essential and detrimental to nearly all forms of life. Despite their relevance for life and ocean biogeochemistry broadly, the short lifetime of ROS makes them challenging to study. To address this obstacle, her team has developed the first submersible sensors for measuring ROS within the ocean. On this cruise, Colleen’s team will explore the health and physiology of mesophotic and deep-sea corals and sponges coupling in situ measurements of ROS with ecological and biological characterization of the organism and their symbionts.