Victoria Orphan, NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Awardee 2018

Victoria Orphan, James Irvine Professor of Environmental Science and Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, United States, is a geobiologist studying the interaction of microorganisms found in deep-sea sediment with the environment, and has shown that some of these microbes actually regulate greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by consuming methane as their primary source of carbon. Her work on microbially mediated anaerobic oxidation of methane in deep sea sediment has won her the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship (known as the “genius grant”), among many other awards and honors.

The NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Award is supporting Orphan in her efforts to investigate the impact of marine viruses on the transformation of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur in ocean surface waters and sediments, with the ultimate goal of incorporating the data from this unique stable isotope approach into trophic models for ocean ecosystems. As part of this effort, Orphan and her team are advancing the viral-nanoSIMS method for multi-isotope and stable isotope labeling and tracking of host-virus dynamics at the nanometer scale. Her NOMIS-supported project is entitled, Understanding Virus-Host Dynamics in Ocean Ecosystems.

Victoria Orphan earned her PhD in 2001 from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She did her postdoctoral research as National Research Council Associate at the NASA Ames Research Center in California. She was appointed the James Irvine Professor of Environmental Science and Geobiology in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at Caltech in 2016.

For more information about Victoria Orphan and her research, please see her faculty profile.