Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Ben Fisher

Research interests:

I am a marine biogeochemist interested in the cycling of carbon, nitrogen and metals in the water column and marine sediments. My research is typically interdisciplinary and utilises a wide range of chemical and biological techniques. I take an experimental approach to understanding geochemical and geobiological problems, using lab experiments to understand the underlying processes behind many environmental processes. In addition I am interested in the real world conditions of polar oceans, as indicators of the most rapidly changing areas on Earth to further understand the impact of climate warming on geochemical cycles. My wider interests include geophysical influences on marine chemistry at the land-ocean interface and the detection of organic compounds as signatures of past life on other planets.

Career history:

While studying for my bachelors degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Exeter I became interested in ocean biogeochemistry and microbiology, undertaking projects to examine how marine microbe species diversify in response to climate change and warming oceans. This interest then led me to pursue a Masters by Research in Biogeochemistry at the University of Leeds. For this project I worked in collaboration with NERC’s Changing Arctic Ocean Program, specifically investigating the changing Arctic Ocean seafloor. My research focused on the chemical tools we use to understand and quantify iron bound carbon, a major mechanism for by which carbon is preserved in marine sediments. This led to the publication of my first paper, a UK conference presentation and an international conference presentation. Through this experience I met my now PhD supervisor and recently began my PhD in Marine Biogeochemistry at the University of Edinburgh.

Active research projects:

How do climate-driven shifts in phytoplankton composition influence carbon and nitrogen uptake and recycling along the west Antarctic Peninsula?

This project is the main focus of my PhD and aims to better understand the climate driven processes influencing phytoplankton community composition and biogeochemistry (C & N cycling) along the west Antarctic Peninsula by creating a data time series over the austral summer. This aims to uncover how variation changes on a seasonal basis compared to the longer decadal scale warming trend. Samples will be obtained during an Antarctic field season, with experiments including phytoplankton species identification alongside measuring C & N isotope uptake.

Recent publications:

Experimental evaluation of the extractability of iron bound organic carbon in sediments as a function of carboxyl content
BJ Fisher, OW Moore, JC Faust, CL Peacock, C März
Chemical Geology, 119853 (2020) DOI: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2020.119853

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