Biology Department photograph montage

William P. Cochlan

Professor colleensilver
RTC Research Professor
University of British Columbia (Ph.D. and B.Sc-H), Dalhousie Univ. (M.Sc.)
At SFSU Since: 
Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies
Office Phone: 
(415) 338-3541
Marine Microbial Ecology and Oceanography, specifically phytoplankton ecology and physiology, harmful algal blooms (HABs) nutrient dynamics, algal biofuels and ocean acidification.

I am a biological oceanographer/marine microbial ecologist who addresses the fundamental question: “What environmental factors control phytoplankton growth, their nutrition and distribution in the ocean?” More specifically, how do the multiple interactions of light, macro- and micro-nutrients, and ocean acidity affect the physiology of marine phytoplankton and bacteria, and hence determine their growth rates, biochemical content and activities, and distribution patterns in the sea from coastal to oceanic environments.

My laboratory has been studying phytoplankton in unialgal cultures and during field studies ranging from polar to equatorial waters. Recently, much of our efforts have been directed towards the study of toxic microalgae that form Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) both locally in the San Francisco Bay, adjacent coastal waters, and the Pacific Northwest, including the  Puget Sound, WA.  We also study how ocean acidification affects the nutritional content of coastal phytoplankton found in upwelling regions of the West Coast.

In addition to studying both harmful and benign phytoplankton, we are involved in research to generate biofuels from lipogenic phytoplankton.  Our research efforts support the development and optimatization of the commercial technology for this emerging industry.