The Committee on Evolutionary Biology (CEB) is a unique interdepartmental and inter-institutional graduate student training program dedicated to the study of Evolutionary Biology. Faculty and students in the program are engaged in interdisciplinary studies at time scales that range from single generations to the entire history of life and at organizational scales from the molecular to the global.
Brooke Weigel is a PhD candidate at the University of Chicago in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology. Her research aims to characterize the symbiosis between giant canopy-forming kelp and the millions of tiny bacteria that live on their surfaces. Brooke is determining the identity and functional role of symbiotic bacteria associated with the "bull kelp" Nereocystis luetkeana, which forms extensive underwater forests along the Pacific Coast of the United States and Canada. Brooke's research has shown that there are up to 25 million bacteria living on each square centimeter of kelp! Microbial metabolisms may contribute significantly to carbon and nitrogen cycling associated with kelp, which has fueled her desire to characterize the functional importance of this symbiosis. Brooke's research has been funded by the Phycological Society of America, National Geographic, and the Committee on Evolutionary Biology.