Michael J. Follows, PhD
Mick Follows is a professor of oceanography in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT. He seeks to understand how the interactions of physical, chemical and biological processes modulate the structure and function of marine microbial communities and regulate elemental cycles on the global. To this end he develops and employs idealized theory, numerical simulations, and analysis of observed data.
Over the past decade, he has become increasingly fascinated by the biological and ecological aspects of global elemental cycles and developed a new platform for simulating and interpreting the structure, function and biodiversity of marine microbial populations. The approach relies upon the self-assembly of communities from a diverse pool of virtual phenotypes. It provides a bridge between clean concepts from theoretical ecology and the typically sparse observational data from marine ecosystems. To date, this work has focused on marine phytoplankton populations.
Currently, Follows and his group are extending the approach to provide more general description of marine microbes including a broader set of trophic strategies. To understand the ecological sorting of populations, we seek to quantitatively understand and model the costs and benefits of particular organismal traits and interactions, constrained by conservation of mass, electron and energy flow.
Follows is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.