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Dr Shlomit Sharoni

What is your field of expertise?

I am a marine biogeochemist studying the cycling of different elements, mainly phosphate, oxygen, carbon and nutrients, between the biota, ocean, atmosphere, and solid-Earth reservoirs. My primary research centers on understanding how feedbacks between the marine biosphere and the physical/chemical environment operate on different time scales.  To gain insights into our planet's biogeochemical processes, I use statistical and mathematical models in different degrees of complexity.

My research focuses on the following topics:

  • Biogeochemical/climatic feedbacks on multiple timescales.

  • The geologic phosphate cycle.

  • Ecological stoichiometry.

  • The reciprocal interaction between marine phytoplankton and their environment.

Tell us briefly on your academic path?

In 2011, I completed my undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After graduating, I had the opportunity to work as a research assistant in Prof. Dan Yakir lab at the Weizmann Institute of Science, where I investigated the mortality of the Pinus halepensis trees in response to environmental stresses. 
In 2012, I began my MSc program at the Weizmann Institute. For my MSc thesis, I joined a collaborative project between the labs of Prof. Assaf Vardi and Prof. Ilan Koren, where I combined laboratory experiments and field work to explore the mechanisms by which marine viruses disperse and infect marine phytoplankton.
For my PhD I wanted to use mathematical models to study the interaction between marine phytoplankton and their environment. Therefore, I join the lab of Prof. Itay Halevy at the Weizmann Institute. In my thesis, I explored the patterns of nutrient limitation and acclimation of phytoplankton in the oceans and over geological time scales.
In 2022, I joined the lab group of Prof. Mick Follows at MIT as a Fulbright, Rothschild and Simons Postdoc Fellow. Here, my research focus centers on understanding how variations in phytoplankton macromolecular composition affect global ocean deoxygenation.

What type of research you do (what excites you mostly)?

I am mostly excited studying the feedbacks between the biota and their chemical and physical environment. For that I mainly use mathematical models as well as theoretical approach. 

How was your experience as a postdoc so far?

My experience as a postdoc has been very positive. I thoroughly enjoy being a postdoc at the Department of Earth, Atmosphere, and Planetary Sciences at MIT, where I am exposed to cutting-edge research and a diverse range of lecturers and fields. Prof. Mick Follows' group has a highly collaborative, professional, and enthusiastic environment, and I feel very fortunate to conduct my research in this lab.


What is one underappreciated thing you wish everyone knew about your research

Unicellular, microscopic organisms have a huge impact on our environment, and they can alter atmospheric composition, ocean chemistry, and global climate.

Can you share any professional or personal challenges that you have overcome?

After completing my BSc, I decided to do a shift from experimental and molecular biology approaches to focus on mathematical and computational-oriented work. This transition was very challenging on a personal and professional level. Nevertheless, I believe that it was worthwhile, as it equipped me with the necessary tools to articulate my ideas and pursue my passions. 

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