Our team

Principal Investigators

Professor Alexandre Anesio 

Aarhus University

Alex's research combines molecular and biogeochemical approaches to determine microbial functionality and activity in the cryosphere. His previous research demonstrated that microbial activity at the surface of glaciers and ice sheets are responsible for significant carbon with implications for biogeochemical cycles at local and global scales. As part of DEEP PURPLE, he is particularly interested in how the different actors in the ice microbial community (viruses, bacteria, fungi and algae) interact with each other and with their physical and chemical environment to build an ice sheet biome.

Email; ama@envs.au.dk 

Twitter: @AlexAnesio

Professor Liane G. Benning

GFZ Potsdam

Liane leads the interface-geochemistry group at GFZ Potsdam, which studies molecular level microbe-mineral-fluid interactions. Her team’s work in the Arctic focuses on understanding the kinetics and mechanisms of mineral – organic matter – microbe inter-transformations in inorganic and biological particulates in snow and ice. For DEEP PURPLE, the GFZ team will focus on questions related to how cryogenic algae colonise and bio-mine mineral surface for crucial nutrients. They will quantify the role of algal-driven particulate / mineral-nutrient utilisation in organic carbon cycling and assess the effect of such processes on the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. 

Email; benning@gfz-potsdam.de 

Twitter: @lianegbenning

Professor Martyn Tranter

Aarhus University

Martyn has a long-standing interest in the rock-water-microbe interactions, a spectrum of which occur within the different microbiological niches on the surface of the ice sheet. He is particularly interested in how the microbes acquire and recycle nutrient from atmospheric and snow/ice sources, which following the presence of liquid water, is likely to be one of the key drivers, of microbial growth and pigmentation. He also has an interest in understanding how the architecture of the rotting surface ice impacts on the mobility and concentration of particulates and glacier algae, which in turn impacts on the albedo of the surface ice.

Email; martyn.tranter@envs.au.dk 

Twitter: @MartynTranter1

Post-doctoral researchers

Dr Runa Antony

GFZ Potsdam

Runa’s interests lie in exploring the interplay between microbial metabolism and the carbon cycle in glacial systems at different spatial and temporal scales. She uses an interdisciplinary approach combining bulk- and molecular-level analyses of dissolved organic matter, major ions, cell counts, microbial diversity and their metabolic capacity to explore the dynamics of carbon and nutrients in these systems and to understand the functional role of resident microbes in these dynamics. Her interests within the DEEP PURPLE project are to assess the storage, dynamics and fate of organic carbon, especially particulate organic matter on the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Runa aims to improve our knowledge of the nature, sources, on-ice microbial processing and fluxes of organic matter on ever-changing ice surfaces during melting and provide novel, holistic insights on the interplay between microbial metabolism, carbon cycling and surface melting. This way she aims to help fine tune the response of Greenland’s ice masses to future climate warming scenarios in global predictive models.

Dr Joseph Cook

Aarhus University

Joseph is responsible for the overall work package strategy and has particular expertise in albedo measurement and modelling. He has developed the BioSNICAR models for calculating the albedo-reducing effects of glacier algae and published extensively on the interactions between biological and  physical processes on ice surfaces. His field work experience includes >15 on-ice camps in Greenland in all seasons and he has explored deep beneath the ice sheet surface in a series of ice caving expeditions.

Twitter: @tothepoles

Dr Helen Feord

GFZ Potsdam

Helen is interested in understanding the cellular mechanisms underpinning algal adaption to stressful and changing environments. For her PhD, she studied daily energy rhythms in a model green alga, investigating how cells rhythmically alter their metabolism to anticipate the environmental changes imposed by day and night. Within DEEP PURPLE, she will focus on the eukaryotic algae present on the Greenland Ice Sheet by studying diurnal and seasonal changes in algal community and function, as well as algal responses to various abiotic stressors. For this, she will combine environmental sampling and incubation experiments both in the field and in controlled laboratory settings, with a focus on quantifying changes in gene expression. She hopes this will give us a better understanding of how these algal species both respond to and anticipate dynamic environmental change. 

Twitter: @echoing_lichen

Dr Pablo Forjanes

GFZ Potsdam

Pablo is a geologist and has been studying mineral replacement mechanisms since the end of his bachelor. His PhD thesis investigated which parameters control the viability and kinetics of fluid-driven mineral replacement reactions. Pablo is 50% part of Deep Purple and is in charge of the mineralogical characterization of the samples. His job within the project will be to identify and quantify the mineral species in the samples. This may help to understand i) the role of minerals in albedo variations and ii) the role of minerals in the release of essential nutrients that algae need to survive and grow.

Dr Beatriz Gill Olivas

Aarhus University

Beatriz is interested in improving understanding of how the pools of N and P are distributed on the surface of the Greenland Ice sheet, as well as the extent to which these nutrients influence the heterogeneous darkening of the ice surface. As a member of DEEP PURPLE, Beatriz will construct a continuous flow analyser capable of quantifying nanomolar concentrations of N and P. This will allow us to quantify nutrient availability in these highly oligotrophic environments and identify potential limiting factors to algae growth. Beatriz developed a keen interest for analytical chemistry during her PhD, and subsequent postdoc, at the University of Bristol, for which she used a wide variety of analytical techniques to study the potential of basal abrasion to supply of energy and nutrients to subglacial environments.

Dr Christoph Keuschnig

GFZ Potsdam

Christoph’s research interests revolve around microbial ecology in soil and the cryosphere, interkingdom interactions in microbial communities and their geochemical environment across different spatial and temporal scales. He combines molecular biology (PCR, qPCR, sequencing of metagenomes and metatranscriptomes) geochemical (wet chemistry and gas analytics) and bioinformatic techniques in laboratory and field experiments. Within DEEP PURPLE, he will use metagenomic and metatranscriptomic datasets to define a functional profile of microbial communities in snow and ice environments and identify potential mutualistic relationships between snow and ice algae with co-inhabiting procaryotes in cryo-biomes. 

Twitter: @KeuschnigC

Dr Laura Perini

Aarhus University

Laura was a Marie Curie PhD fellow at the University of Ljubljana, within the MicroArctic project, studying the abundance and diversity of fungal and bacterial communities inhabiting different glacial habitats of the Arctic region. Her research interests focus on extremophile microorganisms, including psychrophilic and psychrotolerant fungi, bacteria, and algae, and understanding their dynamics. Laura's goal in DEEP PURPLE will be to identify which type of interactions exist between microbial communities thriving on the surface ice of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Microcosm experiments will be performed to clarify how algal physiology is affected by bacterial activity and fungal secondary metabolites production. Furthermore, additional experiments will enable to assess the role of zoosporic fungi and viruses as ‘top-down’ controls on the glacier algal community.

Twitter: @LauPer89

Dr Pamela Rossel Cartes

GFZ Potsdam

Pamela’s research focuses on the analysis of dissolved organic matter (DOM) from a wide range of systems. She has been assessing their variability in relation to environmental drivers and the present bacterial communities. In the last years, part of her work has been performed with sediments and porewaters of the deep Arctic Ocean. Because she continues to be captivated by the Arctic region, she has recently joined the DEEP PURPLE team. Her goal in the project is to study DOM cycled on the glaciers. She will use untargeted mass spectrometric approaches in combination with contextual data from cryogenic systems in order to reveal the biogeochemical processes regulating the variability of dissolved organic species and their potential contribution to the melting of Greenland ice sheet.

Twitter: @pamela_rossel

Dr. Katie Sipes

Aarhus University

Katie’s research employs bioinformatics and computer programming to study microorganisms living in extreme environments. Using metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, and 16S rRNA genes, she aims to determine who is there and what they are doing. In other words, which kinds of microorganisms are present and what genetic potential they possess and connect these adaptations to how the organisms are adapted to harsh conditions. Some locations Katie has studied microbes in include permafrost in Siberia, Russia; the fjords, marine sediment, and permafrost in Svalbard; and the Ice Sheets in Greenland. With Deep Purple, Katie will use bioinformatic techniques to study how glacier algae, bacteria, archaea and giant viruses inhabit a desolate environment that is rapidly melting.

Twitter: @KatieSipes42

Dr Ian Stevens

Aarhus University

Ian completed his PhD exploring the eco-hydrology of glacial surfaces at Aberystwyth University, studying the physical parameters of the near-surface weathering crust and the microbial abundance of surface meltwaters at field sites across the Northern Hemisphere from the high Arctic to the European Alps. His research interest focuses on elucidating hydrological processes within the weathering crust, exploring water, particulate and microbial fluxes through this aquifer to the channelised supraglacial hydrological system. To achieve this goals, Ian has a passion for method development, including designing and building custom sensors to measure previously unrecorded parameters. Ian’s role in DEEP PURPLE will be to continue to obtain empirical measurements of the weathering crust, informing modelling and upscaling approaches, and enabling assessment the provision of water to ice-surface algae.

Twitter: @theianstevens

PhD students

Marie Bolander

Aarhus University

Marie is a PhD student in Alex Anesio's group at Aarhus University. She studied biology-biotechnology at the University of Copenhagen with a main focus and interest in microbiology, especially dealing with microbial interactions. As a part of DEEP PURPLE her PhD project will aspire to understand how glacier ice algae thrive and survive on the Greenland Ice Sheet. This will be done by investigating the impact of environmental factors on the production of stress induced enzymes. Besides looking at the adaptation of the glacier ice algae towards GrIS, she is also going to explore the production pathway of purpurogallin in the algae. 

Twitter: @MarieBolander

Lou Chevrollier 

Aarhus University

Lou studied energy and environmental engineering in France before finding her way into natural sciences. She has always been fascinated by the role of polar regions in our climate system and concerned about the dramatical changes ongoing in the Arctic, accelerating global warming. As part of Deep Purple she will be looking into trying to disentangle the albedo-reduction effect of the different components of the rotting ice environment, combining field measurements and modelling experiments. In particular, she will work on refining numerical models to better reproduce and understand the role of glacier algae among the other light absorbing particles and within the changing ice structure. 

Twitter: @LouChevrollier

Shunan Feng

Aarhus University

Shunan is interested in understanding the process and climate response of earth surface, particularly time series analysis by combining the in-situ measurement, remote sensing or other geospatial data and model results. This had led him to focus on remote sensing during his bachelor study and specialize in glaciology during my master study in Uppsala University. He also worked as remote sensing associate in the International Committee of the Red Cross. His role in Deep Purple will be trying to monitor the variability of the albedo of rotting ice surfaces in the Dark Zone of the Greenland Ice Sheet at different scales using remote sensing data (satellite, drone imagery).

Twitter: @GeoShunan

Rey Mourot

GFZ Potsdam

Rey is a PhD student in Liane G. Benning’s group at GFZ Potsdam, in Germany. They studied ecology and evolution at Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France, and have a background in astrobiology. As part of DEEP PURPLE, they focus on both experimenting on field samples with diverse cryo techniques – Cryo-SEM, Cryo CT - and reproducing glacial environments in the lab, to study microbial communities interactions and their survival thought freezing-thawing cycles and in the snow-ice transition. 

Twitter: @Rey_Mourot

Elisa Peter

GFZ Potsdam

Elisa joins the DEEP PURPLE team this autumn as a PhD student in Liane Benning's research group. She brings a background in pharmaceutical and food chemistry, focusing on the analysis and production of natural compounds from plants and fungi using liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry and bioprocess engineering. Driven by her curiosity for a largely unexplored ecosystem, Elisa is excited to investigate the adaptation, interaction and dynamics of microbial communities on the Greenland Ice Sheet and their impact on albedo reduction and glacier melting.

Twitter: @ElisaKPeter

Affiliated researchers

Dr Thanassis Zervas

Aarhus University

Sven Peters

GFZ Potsdam

Sven’s passion lies in field work and micro analytics. His studies in geology focused on microscopy & spectroscopy of geomaterials related to mineral forming processes. He worked as a student assistant for over 2 years in the Interface Geochemistry section at the GFZ and became more and more fascinated with microbial processes. Deep Purple will let him combine his mineral and microbe passions. His Deep Purple research contribution will focus on cell counting primarily using a FlowCam, combing microscopy with digital image analyses. In addition, for the main 2022 field campaign in Greenland, he will help with camp management and support the different lab workflows related to microbial and organic carbon sample collection and processing.

Project support

Sandy Herrmann

GFZ Potsdam

Richard Westaway

Aarhus University

Project alumni

Dr Stefanie Lutz

GFZ Potsdam

Daniel Rissi

GFZ Potsdam

Dr Chris Trivedi

GFZ Potsdam

Dr Eva Doting

Aarhus University

Dr Laura Halbach

Aarhus University

Lasse Twiggs Degn

Aarhus University

Dr Thomas Turpin-Jelfs

Aarhus University

Dr Ate Jaarsma

Aarhus University

Dr Ozan Çiftçi

GFZ Potsdam

Caroline and Dan investigated how the research of Deep Purple can be shared and have value and relevance to local Greenlandic communities, and how local knowledge can be included and credited in natural science research projects such as Deep Purple.

Caroline Woergaard Gram 

University of Copenhagen

Caroline is a MSc student in Biology, writing her master thesis at the Department of Science Education at the University of Copenhagen. Throughout her studies, Caroline have had a particular interest in the life in the Polar Regions as well as teaching and science communication. Caroline has throughout her studies worked with the communication of biological knowledge through science education and the Natural History Museums. As part of Deep Purple she will follow the biological knowledge production of Deep Purple, mapping out the role of researchers and conducting empirical research on the implications of ice algae for local communities in Greenland, as well as investigating how the research of Deep Purple can be shared and have value and relevance to local Greenlandic communities and how local knowledge can be included and credited in Deep Purple.

Dan Johan Kristensen

University of Copenhagen

Dan joins the Deep Purple team as a Masters student in Biology at the University of Copenhagen writing a master thesis at the Department of Science Education. He is interested in making science accessible to the public with a particular focus on climate and sustainability sciences, He will contribute to the Deep Purple project by following the biological knowledge production of Deep Purple, mapping out the role of researchers and conducting empirical research on the implications of ice algae for local communities in Greenland, as well as investigating how the research of Deep Purple can be shared and have value and relevance to local Greenlandic communities and how local knowledge can be included and credited in Deep Purple.

All team members listed here are directly contributing to DEEP PURPLE research, though not all are fully funded by the ERC grant due to various institutional co-funding arrangements.