Alexandra Z. Worden
Alexandra Z. Worden is a professor at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and Kiel University and an adjunct professor at UC Santa Cruz. Her research focuses on photosynthetic organisms, integrating genomics, evolutionary biology, and ecology to explore microbial roles in carbon dioxide uptake and fate. Her group develops methods and technologies for systems-biology and seagoing studies of protists and their viruses, and for quantifying their contributions to global primary production, activities in the deep sea, and trajectories in future oceans.
At Radcliffe, Worden is developing concepts and models to examine how motility in pico-eukaryotic algae impacts growth and death in the ocean. Global carbon cycle models currently do not consider motility in predictions of how primary production patterns and phytoplankton succession will change under future ocean conditions. The role of such a broadly distributed and evolutionarily conserved feature, the flagellum, remains virtually unknown in the ecology of small phytoplankton, a major shortfall in our cell biological and ecological understanding of ocean algae.
Worden earned a BA in history from Wellesley College while also studying earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was a NASA Graduate Student Fellow in Earth Systems Science, earned her PhD at Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, and was an NSF postdoctoral fellow at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Marine Microbiology Investigator, and a fellow of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology.