Daniel Muratore

Daniel Muratore is a PhD student in the School of Biological Sciences as a member of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Biosciences. Prior to arriving at Georgia Tech, Daniel completed an undergraduate degree in biological sciences at the University of Chicago and worked as a research technician in the Coleman Lab at the University of Chicago. While working in the Coleman Lab, Daniel developed a deep interest in the ecology of marine microbes and their viruses. This brought Daniel to Joshua Weitz’s group at Georgia Tech, where Daniel uses mathematical models to study marine microbes (including viruses!) and their biogeochemical impacts.

Photosynthesizing marine microbes account for approximately half of all carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere every year. Remarkably, many of these microbes are able to grow to massive population sizes in seawater with very small quantities of nutrients, all the while facing constant threat of viral infection and larger planktonic predators. The vastly diverse and complicated interplay of abiotic nutrient fluxes, biochemical transformations, cross-species interchange of nutrients, and ecological interactions grind the gears in the global machines which govern the cycling of important elements (especially carbon) and regulate the Earth’s climate.

Daniel’s research integrates nonlinear dynamical modeling with bioinformatics and statistics to explore the role viruses have to play in the ocean’s biogeochemistry. This work has involved using game theory to explore the evolutionary dynamics of tradeoffs between nutrient acquisition and viral immunity in iron-limited phytoplankton; using machine learning methods to characterize changes in community-wide gene regulatory networks and associated molecular intermediates over the day/night cycle in the open surface ocean, and identifying differences in genomic nitrogen-content between marine microbial (and viral) communities taken from a highly spatially heterogenous oxygen minimum zone in the Pacific Ocean. Daniel’s planned future work seeks to incorporate some of the conclusions from these projects into oceanographic geochemical models to further understand the impact of microscopic life on the global scale.

Daniel spent an entire childhood tromping through the brackish marshes of southeast Texas on the Gulf of Mexico, and is no stranger to the field. In addition to theory work, Daniel has contributed to fieldwork in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans as part of multi-institution synthetic collaborations, and is always ready and rearing to head back to sea. When ashore, Daniel assists in BioBuzz student events and leads the Weitz Group in weekly pilates classes deemed ‘lab’-ilates.