Elisa Schaum

An oceanographer turned evolutionary biologist, I investigate what makes some phytoplankton populations better at evolving under climate change than others. I do this because phytoplankton are breathtakingly beautiful, and because they pretty much rule the world: they produce half of the oxygen that we breathe, fuel food-webs and their activities determine whether the oceans can take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As far as world conquest goes, they are doing very well. While we know a lot about how climate change affects phytoplankton in the short-term (i.e. if today’s plankton populations were to time-travel into tomorrow’s oceans), we are still only beginning to understand the long-term consequences of climate change on phytoplankton and the ecosystems that they inhabit.

I am just now coming to the end of a position as an associate research fellow at the University of Exeter’s Satellite Campus for Strange People (more formally known as Penryn Campus), and am about to start a junior professorship at the University of Hamburg.

My life pre-science involved a lot of music and dancing. I also like to write fairly horrific poetry (or, preferably, read splendid poetry) in my free time. Originally from Belgium, I have lived and worked in the Netherlands, Germany, France, South Africa, Italy, New Zealand and the UK.