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Microbes in the Dark

Water-rock reactions at and below the seafloor support a diverse biosphere of microscopic life in the deep ocean. I use geochemical, microbiological, and molecular biological tools to study the who, what, where &  how of these fascinating life forms.

VonDamm_IMageCourtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.jpg

Seafloor Exploration

I work in diverse geological settings around the world, including hydrothermal vents, mid-ocean ridges, hot spot and arc volcanoes, mud volcanoes, seamounts and oceanic crust. I use advanced submergence technology to discover and study these environments.

Astrobiology & Ocean Worlds

I apply my expertise from ocean research and exploration to help inform the search for life on planetary bodies  beyond Earth. The strategies that we as oceanographers use to explore, sample, and study the deep ocean are directly relevant for future NASA missions.


Humans & the Deep Sea

There are emergent human uses of the deep sea in the form of mining and carbon sequestration that will alter this environment. I am working to inform policies relating to these uses, decrease the likelihood of serious harm , and maintain ecosystem services for the benefit of society.


Image Credit: NOAA Ocean Exploration

Image Credit: NASA

Image Credit: Orcutt et al. 2020

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