MEET THE TEAM

Making it all work from the boats to the laboratory

Colomban DE VARGAS
Research Director – FRANCE

Colomban is fascinated with the richness and eccentric beauty of plankton life, and its co-evolution with the earth’s systems and climate. It is what drives his work as Research Director at the CNRS France, and leader of the Evolution of Pelagic Ecosystems & Protists team at the Biology Station of Roscoff. He has coordinated the plankton “biodiversity” and “protest” research of the Tara Oceans expeditions. Combining high-throughput DNA sequencing and imaging technologies, his work is at the interface between modern and past oceans. He has revealed the prominence of protists, symbioses, and biotic positive interactions in global ecology and evolution. He has co-authored more than 110 scientific papers and is the 2017 laureate of the Great Prize for Marine Science from the National Academy of Science, France. It was Colomban’s idea to create Plankton Planet linking DNA-metabarcoding to an on-going sampling effort covering more of the world’s ocean through cooperation with volunteers from the sailing community, the Planktonauts.

Xavier POCHON
Research Scientist – NEW ZEALAND

Of Swiss origin, it was against all odds that Xavier became a marine biologist with an academic background in coral reefs symbioses, molecular systematics & ecology. His passion for the ocean and enthusiasm for marine discoveries have led Xavier to more than 15 years of research throughout the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific. Now established in New Zealand, Xavier is a Science Leader at the Cawthron Institute and stands as a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland. His expertise in using high-throughput DNA sequencing technologies makes him a natural for understanding plankton sample analysis, and his ability to move easily between conceptual and practical issues are of great value to the team. His primary role with Plankton Planet is to coordinate research activities in the South-West Pacific region together with Emmanuel Malpot.

Sébastien COLIN
Research Engineer – FRANCE

Sebastien’s interest in fundamental ecological questions led him to combine his expertise in biochemistry (PhD) and molecular biology with his interest in imaging plankton.  Working as a research engineer in the Tara Oceans project, at the Roscoff Biological Station in France, and the EMBL in Germany, he had access to state-of-the-art imaging technologies and outstanding research colleagues.  Seb’s expertise in advanced microscopy, machine vision and automation, bio-imaging analysis and machine learning allow him to capture new images of plankton.  He presents these microscopic life forms in new ways such as lenticular prints, holograms, and 3-D models.  His work is the basis of the Plantkon Planet Arts project and the team’s outreach to general audiences.

Carole BEAUMONT
Senior Scientist / Advisor – FRANCE & INTERNATIONAL WATERS

She is an enthusiastic sailor and scientist.  Her PhD in chemical engineering led her to become a full time INSERM researcher dedicated to unraveling the complex molecular network implicated in iron homeostasis and red blood cell formation in mammals, and related genetic disorders.  Since her retirement, she spends more time sailing and is an active member of the French “Sail the World” association where she is responsible for the “Science and Oceans” committee. She and her husband were Planktonaut pioneers in the first phase of Plankton Planet.  Carole continues to generously contribute her time to providing advice to improving the sampling process and protocols from both a sailing and research perspective.

Emmanuel MALPOT
Research Engineer – NEW ZEALAND

Emmanuel brings a blend of marine science background, seafaring experience, networking ability, and enthusiasm to the project. An engineer in marine aquaculture with 20 years of experience in the Indo-pacific region, he has a wide-ranging knowledge of the aquaculture sector stretching from farm management, R&D, government organization and consulting activities. Emmanuel obviously understands the fundamental role of plankton ecosystems and is concerned about the changes in the ocean’s food chain. Emmanuel is also a keen sailor and has embarked on many coastal and offshore voyages. His primary role with Plankton Planet is to coordinate the project’s activities in the South-West Pacific region together with Xavier Pochon.

Sarah ROMAC
Engineer Molecular Biology – FRANCE

Assistant Engineer in molecular ecology, Sarah works in the Evolution of Protists and Pelagic Ecosystems team of the Roscoff Biology Station in France since 2008.  She developed the study methodology of environmental diversity of unicellular marine eukaryotes through high-throughput sequencing of biomarkers for the team’s research programs and Tara-Oceans expeditions. Her practical experience in the field allowed her to contribute to the development of the plankton sampling kit for the Planktonauts. Sarah’s role in the team is to register the samples received and coordinate their analysis in the lab.

Kimberley GERVEREAU
Strategy & Communication – FRANCE

As an avid scuba diver, Kim would rather spend her time under the water than on the water.  She is an engineer and comes from a background in corporate research focused on international partnerships and high-level environmental policy making.  She is passionate about marine research and conservation having observed the rapid degradation of reefs around the world. Kim is the founder of the Big Blue Network, an internet platform that brings together innovators in marine conservation to share and spread best practices. She believes it is essential to educate the next generation about the ocean ecosystems they depend upon. Her role in the team is to provide advice and support on communications and strategy.

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