Smithsonian’s Five Questions with Biological Oceanographer Uta Passow

Uta Passow hopes to better understand the movement of carbon in the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo Credit: ECOGIG)

(Click to enlarge) Uta Passow hopes to better understand the movement of carbon in the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo Credit: ECOGIG)

Phytoplankton are active organic carbon producers and help drive the processes that move carbon from the ocean surface to the sea floor. Scientists are investigating impacts from the sudden large input of carbon from the Deepwater Horizon spill on this important biological cycle.

The Smithsonian Ocean Portal recently featured Uta Passow with the University of California Santa Barbara Marine Science Institute in their Women in Science series. Passow is a co-principal investigator on three research programs funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative – ECOGIG, ECOGIG II, and ADDOMEx – studying microbial responses to oil and oil-dispersant mixtures.

Read the Ocean Portal article to learn about Passow and her research to understand the effects of hydrocarbon influx on marine snow, phytoplankton, and the ocean’s carbon cycle.

For more information about Passow’s research, read these articles:


GoMRI and the Smithsonian have a partnership to enhance oil spill science content on the Ocean Portal website.

This research was made possible in part by a grant from BP/The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) to the Coastal Waters Consortium (CWC). The GoMRI is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization and remediation technologies. An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence of the GoMRI research. All research data, findings and publications will be made publicly available. The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP.  For more information, visit

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