The investigator portfolio builds from the concept that providing leading researchers with the resources and flexibility to follow their scientific instincts and conduct cutting-edge, often risky research leads to innovative, high-impact science. Initiative investigators use complementary scientific perspectives and tools (such as molecular ecology, evolutionary theory, geochemical analyses and computational modeling) to change the paradigm for the field and, in so doing, help achieve our long-term goal of uncovering the underlying principles that govern the interactions among microbes and that influence microbially mediated nutrient flow in representative marine microbial ecosystems. The investigators' research areas form synergistic themes such as studying marine biogeochemical cycles from multiple angles, developing computational models that span from intracellular and microscale phenomena to global scales, and studying the mutualistic and antagonistic interactions among the different domains of life and viruses.

Multidisciplinary Research, Novel Instrumentation and Methods Development

We seek to overcome conceptual, disciplinary, technological and methodological barriers that currently hinder scientists from understanding nutrient flow in the ocean; from deciphering the genetic and biochemical bases of microbial metabolism, physiology and ecology; and from understanding how microbes and viruses interact with one another and the consequences of these interactions. To do so, we fund multidisciplinary research projects, which support collaborations of international scientists with diverse expertise using laboratory, field, theory and computational techniques. We also support instrumentation and methods development to enable breakthroughs, often at interdisciplinary interfaces.

Community Resources

We fund the creation and sharing of data and the development of tools, methods and infrastructure that are of broad use to the research community

Experimental Model Systems

We support scientists to accelerate the development of genetically manipulable experimental model systems for marine microbial ecology research through a 48-grant portfolio. This international endeavor taps into the efforts of hundreds of scientists with a broad range of expertise to collectively tackle the challenge of bringing the power of genetics and experimental model systems to the ocean. The genetic tools created through this portfolio will allow researchers to more easily disrupt the activities of microbial genes to understand the cellular biology of these organisms and how they function in marine ecosystems. Developing robust model systems is complex and risky because the work is difficult and success is not guaranteed. By taking risks and funding challenging work with a high potential payoff, the foundation helps fuel innovation that can have a significant impact by enabling scientists to more deeply explain the natural world.

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