A new Science and Technology Center announced by the National Science Foundation (NSF) this week will conduct transformative research, education, and outreach to promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of the chemicals and chemical processes that underpin ocean ecosystems.
The Center for Chemical Currencies of a Microbial Planet (C-CoMP), which will be based at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), is one of six centers that NSF announced on September 9. NSF has made an initial commitment for five years of support with the possibility of continued support for five additional years. The UChicago-affiliated Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole, is one of 13 institutional partners in C-CoMP. A. Murat Eren (Meren), Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine and MBL Fellow, is also on C-CoMP’s executive committee.
At a time when increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are causing global temperatures to dramatically rise and make the ocean warmer and more acidic, C-CoMP will bring rapid and transformative advances to understanding the behavior of bioreactive molecules and ocean microbes that are involved in one-quarter of the Earth’s annual organic carbon cycle. The center will integrate research, education, and knowledge transfer activities and support interdisciplinary science teams to close knowledge gaps in the identities and dynamics of molecules that serve as the “currencies” of elemental transfer within marine microbial communities and between the ocean and atmosphere.