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Herfort focuses on ecology and physiology of microorganisms

During her childhood, Lydie Herfort's family would drive to the coast of France and camp all summer at the beach. There she would spend her days exploring tide pools and swimming in the ocean. Those early experiences on the coast inspired her to study marine biology. Lydie Herfort, Ph.D.

Today, Lydie Herfort is a post-doctoral fellow at Oregon Health & Science University and an aquatic microbiologist studying ecology and physiology of microorganisms at the Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction.

Herfort received her Ph.D. in 2002 from Queen Mary University of London. Her thesis title was Photosynthesis and calcification in the coocolithophore, Emiliania huxleyi, and two hermatypic corals: Porites porites and Acropora sp. She did her postdoctoral on marine archaea at the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ).

Herfort's major focus is to uncover microbial-mediated activities in river-to-ocean environments in the Pacific Northwest. "I find microorganisms exciting. You don't see them but they play such an important role in the ecosystem," Herfort says.

The coastal area is strongly influenced by the Columbia River. The river is a critical conduit for shipping and commerce, and therefore has a marked human and ecological importance for this region. Her goal is to identify microbial community structure and signature microbial genes that are representative of specific locations for a given season.

Herfort has been chief scientist on three research cruises aboard the R/V Wecoma. Her role was to oversee the research team, collect samples, and ensures the cruise went according to plan. She found CMOP cruises to be instrumental in putting researchers together and learning how her work can be linked with others. Herfort discovered ways to integrate her science in "areas I never thought of combining, like biology and cyberinfrastructure. This makes the work even more exciting."

Herfort is never far from the water, whether it is work or play. Some mornings she starts her day at the pool for a swim. “ I love it, swimming is the most relaxing thing I do,” she says. And that is good, because she will soon be off to a full day of experiments and research in aquatic microbiology.