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Meet our fellows

Hector Marin Moreno

My scientific career starts with a Bachelor + Master degree in Engineering Geology at the Polythechnics University of Catalonia (5 years) follow by a Masters in Computational Geomechanics and Geotechnics at the same university (1 year). After that, pursuing my goal of being part of the next generation of researchers, I moved to the Geophysics and Marine Geosciences Department at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton, University of Southampton, UK for my PhD entitle, “Numerical Modelling of Overpressure Generation in Deep Basins and Response of Arctic Gas Hydrate to Ocean Warming”.

My current/main research here at OGS, in collaboration with OGS researchers Umberta Tinivella and Michela Giustiniani, is focused on the understanding of the physical processes governing gas hydrate (GH) systems and how marine Arctic GH bearing sediments may respond to ocean warming, arisen by anthropogenic global warming, over the next century. 

GHs are solid crystalline compounds, in which gas molecules are lodged within the clathrate crystal lattice. They form at low temperature-high pressure conditions and if the dissolved methane concentration in the sediments within the GH stability zone is at or above saturation value. The main parameters affecting GH stability include temperature, pressure, gas chemistry, pore-water salinity, and geothermal gradient.

How important will be the contribution from hydrate-source methane emissions to the ocean and, perhaps, to the atmosphere in comparison with other methane sources?

Will this contribution be enough to accelerate ocean acidification and global warming?

Could future Arctic gas hydrate dissociation increase the likelihood of submarine landslides in Arctic continental margins?

Shall we establish some new geotechnical guidelines/criteria to consider gas hydrate dissociation as a potential-future geohazard for offshore infrastructures located in Arctic continental margins?    

This research is supported by TALENTS FVG Programme - Activity 1 - Incoming mobility scheme - European Social Fund, Operational Programme 2007-2013, Objective 2 Regional Competitiveness and Employment, Axis 5 Transnational cooperation”.


Arthur Capet

My master thesis (Liège, Belgium, 2006) was in the field of information theory. The question was how to quantify the complexity of cellular automata's, and use it to propose a classification of  these elementary systems.


I then started my PhD in oceanography, under supervision of Jean Marie Beckers and Marilaure Grégoire on the modelling of the Black Sea ecosystem. During this extended PhD ( Sept 2007-March 2014) I went through an extremely wide exploration of various of oceanography. First, the external influence on the system:  identifying atmospheric patterns and their relation to large scale teleconnection systems, and long-term quantitative and qualitative variations of riverine discharges. Second, the physical medium : evidencing long-term variability modes of the hydrodynamical structure based on in-situ vertical profiles (DIVA, detrending), satellite imagery (surface temperature, altimetry) and 3D circulation model (GHER). Finally, the biogeochemical dynamics with a strong focus on the issue of eutrophication and hypoxia on the shelf area of the Black Sea. My efforts were dedicated to conciliate the need of a rigorous modelling study (e.g, detailed validation procedures and sensitivity studies of the numerous processes involved) and the need to translate the model results in terms of exploitable knowledge for socio-economical concerns (e.g., connection with fisheries in collaboration with OGS, definition of an Hypoxia index).

After a short post doc at IMEDEA (Spain, 4.5 months), that brought me back to physics and data analysis (eddy tracking from altimetry), I'm now in OGS for two years (Oct 2014-Oct 2016) to undertake the project ADRHYPOX (CNR N. 0070576, Arthur Capet), co-funded by the European Union under FP7-People - Co-funding of Regional, National and International Programmes (Marie Curie COFUND),  GA n. 600407 and  RITMARE Flagship Project.


- Develop a modelling approach to benthic-pelagic coupling (3D) that (1) renders the non-linear contribution of the sediment to eutrophication, (2) is suited to large ranges of environmental conditions, and (3) is computationally affordable for long term high resolution simulations.

- Quantify the occurrence of hypoxic/anoxic events in terms of an integrated pressure factor on benthic marine resources.

- Question the adequacy of current observing systems to effectively render the true occurrence of hypoxic/anoxic events.


Francesca Malfatti

I am a marine microbial ecologist and a biogeochemist. My main research focus is on the role of marine microbes in the global ocean carbon cycle. My approach is based on the recognition that the metabolic activities of marine bacteria shape the huge ocean ecosystems at the microscale. Therefore, we must understand the ecology, physiology and dynamic of the individual cells in order to develop a mechanistic basis for understanding the ocean basin scale biogeochemical processes and their climate feedbacks. Investigating the interactions of pelagic bacteria at the microscale is a fascinating problem, and it is an area of research that is largely unexplored yet highly rewarding and significant.

I have completed my undergraduate studies in Biology at the University of Trieste, Italy. At that time I have studied the benthonic communities close by the rocky outcrops (Trezze) in the Nord Adriatic Sea with Professor Giuliano Orel. Then I have started exploring the diversity of marine bacteria with molecular tools under the guidance of Dr. Bruno Cataletto and Professor Serena Fonda Umani. I have been awarded an ERASMU scholarship to spend 6 months in the laboratory of Dr. Maria Luiza Pedrotti and Professor Fereidoun Rassoulzadegan at the Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche-sur-Mer (France). Subsequently, I have started my graduate studies at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO, University of San Diego California, USA) under the guidance of Dr. Farooq Azam, a worldwide distinguished professor in the field of marine microbial ecology. In 2009, I have received the PhD title and I have continued my post-doctoral education in the Azam laboratory (SIO). In 2014, I have received a Marie Skłodowska Curie–COFUND fellowship for two years to move back in my hometown and be located in OGS with Dr. Paola Del Negro and Dr. Mauro Celussi.

In 2010, I have received the IRPE Prize (International Recognition of Professional Excellence) winner 2010 in marine ecology; Oldendorf Germany ( for my contribution on individual cell interactions:

Quotation of the Jury (Chairman: Victor Smetacek, Bremerhaven, Germany):

Francesca Malfatti has made innovative and important contributions to the emerging field of microscale biogeochemistry of the surface ocean. As a beginning graduate student Francesca became convinced that to understand how microbes regulate the global ocean carbon cycle we must know their activities and interactions at nanometer to micrometer scales. Painstakingly applying Atomic Force Microscopy to marine pelagic systems she discovered novel and abundant associations of bacteria with other bacteria and with Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus as well as microbial networks that had gone undetected despite decades of research in marine microbiology. These findings should significantly advance our understanding of the ecophysiology, adaptive biology and biogeochemical function of pelagic marine microbes. The jury found her most worthy of the IRPE Prize in marine ecology 2010.

My research in OGS focuses on the microscale role of marine heterotrophic bacteria in the phosphorus-carbon biogeochemical cycles. I am using high-resolutions tool such as Laser Scanning Confocal Microscope and Atomic Force Microscope to resolve the phosphorus-carbon coupling at individual cell level.


Hèloïse Lavigne

My broad research interest is the analysis of the relevant processes, which affect the variability of phytoplankton biomass. During my phd and master thesis (Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France), I have used satellite ocean color information and in-situ data (especially temperature, salinity, fluorescence and nitrate profiles) to better characterize phytoplankton distribution and variability.

During the master thesis, I developed a method to merge in situ chlorophyll fluorescence profiles with ocean color data with the aim to improve knowledge on chlorophyll vertical distribution and especially chlorophyll climatologies at global scale.

My PhD work was on the impact of the mixed layer depth variability on phytoplankton biomass accumulation in the Mediterranean Sea using in situ data and satellite ocean color observations. In particular, I analyzed the match and mismatch between annual cycles of surface chlorophyll-a and mixed layer depth, in different regions of the Mediterranean Sea and I tried to understand how light and nutrients, which are both impacted by the mixed layer depth, control phytoplankton growth in the Mediterranean. During my PhD thesis, I was also involved in the activities linked to Bio-Argo autonomous platforms (see  I mainly focused on sensor calibration (fluorometer for chlorophyll concentration and SUNA for nitrate concentration) and data analysis (phytoplankton spring bloom in the North-West Mediterranean).

I am now at OGS for two years to work on the phytoplankton phenology (periodic events of phytoplankton seasonal cycle such as blooms) and its causes, in the North Ionian and South Adriatic Seas. This project is co-funded by the European Union under FP7-People - Co-funding of Regional, National and International Programmes (Marie Curie COFUND),  GA n. 600407 and  RITMARE Flagship Project.

The first part of this research project is dedicated to the characterization of the relationships between the interannual variability of phenological characteristics, derived from ocean color time-series, and the interannual variability of physical and chemical factors. In particular the impact of the decadal reversal of the North Ionian circulation (Bimodal Oscillating System, BiOS) will be investigated.

In a second part, I will try to determine which mechanisms are involved in the control of the seasonality of phytoplankton biomass. I will focus especially on identification of mechanisms controlling the transition between the sub-tropical and the sub-polar phytoplankton dynamic. For this purpose, I will use annual time-series derived from Bio-Argo data and a modelling approach.