Francois M.M. Morel

Princeton University

Primary Section: 63, Environmental Sciences and Ecology
Secondary Section: 15, Geology
Membership Type:
Member (elected 2009)

Research Interests

Research in the Morel group deals principally with trace metals in the environment and their roles in the global cycles of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus.  We are interested in such questions as: What are the chemical forms of metals such as Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd or Hg in natural waters? How does the speciation of the metals affect their availability to microorganisms?  What metals are limiting or toxic to organisms under what conditions?  How do organisms affect the chemical speciation of the metals in water? How do trace metals affect or control the uptake or utilization of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus by the biota? To what extent do trace metals control primary production in oceanic waters?  A central goal has been to relate the chemistry of metals in natural waters to the physiology and biochemistry of aquatic microorganisms, and to their cycling of elements, including carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus.  Recently, we have focused on the role of metals as cofactors in enzymes that catalyze key reactions in geochemical cycles. This research is carried out with a mix of laboratory and field experiments using a variety of chemical, microbiological, biochemical and genetic tools.  It is also informed by theoretical considerations from a number of disciplines ranging from bioinorganic chemistry to geology and ecology.

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