John Heidelberg, Ph.D.

John Heidelberg, Ph.D.

Associate Director
University of Southern California, Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies

Dr. John Heidelberg is the Associate Director of the University of Southern California Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies. John studies in the field of microbial genomics, specifically the metabolic potential of the common and abundant marine bacteria.

How does citizen science support your research?

Today, we live at a time when environmental stressors on the heath of an ecosystem are changing at an unprecedented rate. The only way that we can begin to understand the effects these stressors are having on ecosystems is by collecting long-term baseline data that will allow us to see trends indicating ecosystem change. Citizen science support will play a critical role in the collection of this data, and thereby allow a more complete understanding of the long-term ecosystem changes.

What do you enjoy most/what is most interesting about researching marine coastal ecosystems on Catalina Island?

To me, the most interesting part of doing marine coastal ecosystems research at the Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island is the huge diversity of research that is going on. It is an unbelievable opportunity as a marine microbiologist to be able to talk and rub elbows with scientists working on everything from robotics, to sex-changing fish, eels, sharks, and even light pollution and the archeology of the native people. Almost all the big breakthroughs in science happen when people look at problems from different perspectives and the WMSC is a great place to just learn about other peoples’ science.

What is one of your favorite moments in the field?

I got the opportunity to dive in the Deep Submergence Vessel, Alvin. Being able to go 1,800 meters below the sea surface is truly a unique and awe-inspiring field opportunity. We were on the Eastern flank of the northern Juan de Fuca Ridge off the coast of Washington where there are hydrothermal vents. There are very few field experiences that can compete with spending a day over a mile deep in the ocean.

  • Ph.D. in Marine-Estuarine-Environmental Sciences, University of Maryland (U.S.)
  • B.A. in Biology, Maryville College, TN (U.S.)
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