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Frank Muller-Karger

Research: Changes in Marine Ecosystems Using Field-based and Satellite Remote Sensing Time Series

Frank E. Muller-Karger is a biological oceanographer (Professor) at the College of Marine Science, University of South Florida. He is of Hispanic descent via Puerto Rico, and while born in the U.S. he grew up in Venezuela. Muller-Karger conducts research on how marine ecosystems change in time. He uses time series of observations collected by traditional oceanographic methods and by satellite sensors to study changes in water quality, primary production, and biodiversity in coastal and marine environments. This research helps in understanding how large-scale phenomena, like climate change or other disturbances, affect ecosystems including people. The focus of his present work is to assess the importance of continental margins, including areas of upwelling, river discharge, and coral reefs in the global carbon budget. Muller-Karger combines the observations from different satellites to measure ocean color, sea surface temperature, winds, salinity and sea surface elevation and how these change. He uses field-based time series to measure the vertical structure of plankton and how particles settle in the ocean. Much of this work focuses on improving methods to measure the diversity of phytoplankton using remote sensing.

Muller-Karger has worked hand-in-hand with K-12 teachers and students and the public to showcase these new technologies and to highlight the importance of the ocean in our daily lives. He has a keen interest in linking science and education, and in addressing the problem of under-representation of minorities in scientific research programs. Muller-Karger was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy in 2001. In 2005, he was appointed to the Ocean Studies Board of the National Research Council/National Academies. He previously received the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Award for Outstanding Contributions and the NASA Administrator Award for Exceptional Contribution and Service for supporting development of satellite technologies for ocean observation. From August 2007-August 2009 he served as Dean of the School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He has B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in marine science and a Masters degree in management, and has authored or co-authored over 120 scientific publications. He speaks fluent Spanish and German.