Isobel Turnbull

Isobel Turnbull


I graduated earlier this year with an Integrated master’s degree in Marine Biology from the University of Southampton.

My research interests include the interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere and how microbes play a role in this. So far, most of my independent research has been in marine molecular biology. I carried out my undergraduate project whilst abroad at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, USA. This was entitled ‘The cytochrome c oxidase gene as a genetic marker for distinct genetic clusters of Xestospongia muta (giant barrell sponge) in the Florida Keys’.

My master’s thesis used metatranscriptomics to study the metabolism of particleattached bacteria in the Southern Ocean and how this may affect the strength of the oceanic biological carbon pump.

Isobel Turnbull

Marine, Atmospheric and Climate Science

University of Plymouth, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

PhD title: Iron released from Antarctic ice controls the biological carbon pump in the surrounding Southern Ocean

I will be based at the University of Plymouth, with co supervisors at Plymouth Marine Laboratory and Oxford. Growth of single-cellular algae, phytoplankton, is limited by the trace micronutrient iron in the Southern Ocean. When phytoplankton photosynthesise they take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Therefore, limited iron in the Southern Ocean also restricts the amount of carbon dioxide that can be sequestered from the atmosphere.

Recent research in the Weddell Sea suggests that when icebergs and sea ice melt, they release different chemical species of iron into the surrounding ocean. How phytoplankton and the microbial community respond to these iron inputs is unknown.

The overarching aim of my PhD is to assess the bioavailability of these different iron sources and how they impact the growth of phytoplankton, to gain a better understanding of how the carbon cycle may change as the climate warms

Awards and Prizes

Year 2 Marine Biology prize for being the highest scoring student during the academic year 2016-2017