Dr Rowena Stern

  • Research Fellow

Rowena is interested in the long-term ecological patterns of plankton using genetic tools  from archival plankton samples from the CPR survey. Currently she is focusing on biological and physical drivers of harmful algae and harmful microbes in order to develop better predictive tools to improve marine health.

Using the unique CPR sample archive as a resource, Rowena has developed DNA extraction methods that complement high throughput sequencing methods to understand how harmful organisms respond to environmental drivers and their community dynamics. She has been involved validating eDNA diversity and abundance from new novel autonomous water samplers deployed alongside the CPR platform and developing DNA barcoding standards as part of the Protist Barcode of Life Working Group. She is the chair of ICES Working Group for Phytoplankton and Microbial Ecology, and member of the ICES Working Group for  Integrated Molecular Taxonomy and SCOR working group Metazoogene.

Rowena is currently a co-investigator on NERC-ARISE Changing Arctic Oceans project determining trophic links between microbes and zooplankton. She recently completed NERC-omics funded projects identifying and tracking Vibrio species from CPR samples in the Northwest Pacific coast of North America along with Professor Luigi Vezzulli and Dr Jaime Martinez-Urtaza and EU Horizons 2020 project AtlantOS, developing assays to detect harmful algae as essential ocean variables. Dr Stern was part of a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Project developing haptophyte algae as a model for transformation.

Rowena carried out her PhD in parasite cell biology at the University of Glasgow and subsequently worked on developing assays to detect human genetic disorders as a postdoc, before she did a postdoc at the University of British Columbia carrying out DNA barcoding project of a number of phytoplankton groups, particularly Dinoflagellates.

Rowena is also the MBA business development Support lead for the ERDF funded Marine Business Technology Centre assisting SMEs in Devon, led by Plymouth City Council alongside four other academic partners.

Key recent papers

  1. Faktorová, D., Nisbet, R.E.R., Fernández Robledo, J.A. et al. Genetic tool development in marine protists: emerging model organisms for experimental cell biology. Nat Methods 17, 481–494 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41592-020-0796-x *> 100 authors.
  2. Stern, R.,Kraberg, A., Bresnan, E., Kooistra, W.H.C.F., Lovejoy, C. et al. 2018. Molecular analyses of protists in long-term observation programmes—current status and future perspectives, Journal of Plankton Research, fby035, https://doi.org/10.1093/plankt/fby035 
  3. Stern R.F.,Moore S., Trainer V., Batten S., Bill B., Fischer A., (2018). "Pseudo-nitzschia diversity in the North Pacific from Continuous Plankton Recorder surveys." MEPS 606: 7-28. 
  4. Stern, R.F.,Hamilton, K.M.,Walne, A., McQuatters-Gollop, A.,Edwards, M et al. (2015). An automated water sampler for probing marine microbial biodiversity with Ships of Opportunity. Prog. Oceanogr. 137: 409-420.  

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