Dr Marc-André Cormier leads key marine science forum at 2022 Challenger Society Conference

Dr Marc-André Cormier, Research Fellow in Biological Sciences at Christ Church, will lead a session on the role of marine mixotrophy in the global carbon cycle at the 2022 Challenger Society Conference.

Running on 6–8 September at the Natural History Museum, London, the Challenger Society Conference 2022 marks the 150th anniversary of the Challenger expedition and celebrates the birth of international and interdisciplinary oceanography.

On 7 December 1872, the HMS Challenger departed the Royal Navy Dockyard at Sheerness on the River Medway in Kent, England, on a four-year global scientific expedition across the world’s oceans.

It was the first truly interdisciplinary grand scientific project, international in scope and involving the study of the physics, chemistry, biology and geology of the global ocean.

Dr Marc-André CormierTogether with University of Oxford colleagues Professor Rosalind Rickaby and Georgina Whichello, Dr Cormier will lead a session on the role of mixoplankton and mixotrophy in the global carbon cycle.

Mixotrophs are flexible microbes which derive energy both from the sun and from other plankton, which they kill and eat.

Recent understanding of how widespread mixotrophy is in the marine food cycle has disrupted our understanding of the marine world, but scientists must now develop new methods to study their impact on the food web.

Dr Cormier and his team think they may have found such a tool. Dr Cormier said: 'Compound-specific hydrogen isotope analysis has the potential to become the metabolic proxy we need for the quantitative assessment of the ratio between autotrophic and heterotrophic metabolism in diverse marine microorganisms.

'This session aims at bringing together scientists working on marine mixotrophy to explore the most pressing research needs, including summarising available mixotrophy data, exhibiting new in situ data, describing the current methods for mixotrophic studies, and identifying potential methods for investigating mixotrophy.

'With this new insight, we might be able to evaluate the contribution of mixoplankton to the global carbon cycle in modern and, potentially, palaeoenvironmental contexts.'

Hintze Hall, Natural History MuseumAlongside the conference events, the 2022 Challenger Conference dinner will be held in the spectacular surroundings of the Natural History Museum Hintze Hall, underneath ‘Hope’ the Blue Whale.

Guests will be allowed to circulate the galleries including a new display of Challenger art and specimens in the Images of Nature gallery prior to the dinner.

MOGPA Fellowship

Christ Church is also pleased to announce that Dr Cormier has this week been awarded a "Make Our Planet Great Again – MOPGA” Fellowship. The French initiative invites researchers from all over the world to cooperate with German and French partners in top-level research projects to address global and climate changes.

The programme, which is specifically non-nationalistic and dedicated to climate and environmental research, was created by President Emmanuel Macron following the United States' decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017.

Dr Cormier will investigate the role of marine mixotrophy on red tides, and foster a collaboration between researchers in Oxford and Nantes.