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Laura Halbach


Laura Halbach


I am a marine biologist having a great passion for the polar regions. I did my Master in Marine Science at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden and did my Master thesis together with the Norwegian-Polar-Institute (NPI) about the influence of tidewater glaciers and bedrock characteristics on phytoplankton growth and nutrient dynamics in Kongsfjorden, Svalbard. I took two external courses at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) on Chemical Oceanography and Molecular Ecology. Throughout my studies I participated on several expeditions both to the Arctic (NPI and UNIS) and Antarctic regions (Alfred-Wegener-Institute). My research interests are broad ranging from biogeochemistry, biological oceanography, marine ecology to microbiology.

PhD project “Arctic biogeochemistry: The metabolome of ice algae and darkening on the Greenland Ice Sheet”

Within my PhD project, I plan to study the algae that thrives on the surface of glaciers and ice sheets. Their pigments darken the ice surface and alter its reflectivity on large-scales, which in turn has consequences for the rates in which ice melts. I will investigate which environmental factors influence their growth, pigmentation, gene expression and production of metabolites (e.g. pigments, phenolic compounds). Further, the potential release of certain metabolites as volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere will be explored. I will perform incubation experiments in the lab using ice algal cultures and conduct field work in Greenland. An ultra-high resolution Orbitrap mass spectrometer will be used as analytical tool in addition to the usage of molecular and plant-physiological methods.

This project aims to overcome the substantial gaps in knowledge regarding the physiological adaptations in ice algae that allow them to grow in glacial habitats and will yield new insights into the mechanisms involved in pigment production.

Supervisors: Prof. Alexandre Magno Barbosa Anesio (main) and Dr. Martin Hansen (co-supervisor). 

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