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Yawei (Wayne) Luo, the Ecosystems Center's first PhD from the MBL/Brown program, celebrates with colleagues and friends.

Modeling Open Ocean Microbial Ecosystems is Focus of First MBL/Brown Ph.D. at the Ecosystems Center

Yawei (Wayne) Luo successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation on August 11. He is the second graduate in the joint MBL/Brown University Ph.D. program, and the first from the Ecosystems Center and Brown’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Luo’s thesis was titled "A Data Assimilating Model of the Microbial Ecosystem in the Open Ocean." His advisers were Hugh Ducklow of the Ecosystems Center and Warren Prell of Brown’s Geological Sciences Department. Committee members were Marjorie Friedrichs of the College of William & Mary, Joe Vallino of the Ecosystems Center, Ducklow and Prell.

Luo’s thesis research concerned numerical simulation models of the plankton ecosystem in the open ocean remote from terrestrial influences. He concentrated on three open ocean sites in the Arabian Sea, Equatorial Pacific and North Pacific Subtropical Gyre near Hawaii. He developed a model with the capability to assimilate multiple ecological observations to optimize the model parameters, emphasizing heterotrophic bacterial processes, nitrogen fixation and dissolved organic matter dynamics. Among his principal results were a successful simulation of a multiyear increase in primary production rates at Hawaii (1991-2006), and demonstration of the mechanisms by which semilabile dissolved organic matter contributes to bacterial growth and nutrient cycling.

A graduate of the Ocean University of China in Qingdao, Luo received his master’s degree from Beijing University. He started his Ph.D. research at the College of William & Mary and moved to MBL in 2007. He will begin a postdoctoral fellowship with Scott Doney at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution this fall.

MBL-Brown graduate students Erica Lasek-Nesselquist, Gillian Galford, Alex Valm, Yuko Hasegawa and Wayne Luo at Wayne's post-defense celebration.