Sophie Bonnet, french researcher awarded an exceptional European research grant

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education and formation

Sophie Bonnet is Director of Research at the Mediterranean Institute of Oceanology (MIO Aix-Marseille University, CNRS, IRD, University of Toulon). She has just won an exceptional European grant for an innovative research project that will examine the biological mechanisms of CO2 sequestration by the ocean, from the study of the cell to the ecosystem as a whole.

Work on ocean biogeochemistry

Sophie Bonnet is Director of Research at the Mediterranean Institute of Oceanology in Marseille. After completing her PhD at Sorbonne University (Paris), she did a post-doctoral fellowship in the United States at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles) before being recruited as a permanent researcher at the IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement) in 2007.

Her work focuses on ocean biogeochemistry, and more specifically on the role of phytoplankton (or micro-algae) in ocean carbon sequestration. She is particularly interested in the different mechanisms of the biological carbon pump and its consequences on the ocean’s capacity to absorb anthropogenic carbon.

For many years, Sophie Bonnet has coordinated several large-scale oceanographic expeditions in the Pacific Ocean, and has participated in numerous missions, totalling more than 450 days at sea. She is also the author of numerous international publications and participates in the supervision of PhD and post-doctoral students.

In 2019, Sophie Bonnet was awarded the Christian Le Provost Oceanographer Prize.

From the time she joined the CNRS in 1973 in the marine invertebrate biology laboratory until her departure in 2013, Françoise Gaill devoted her life to exploring marine life in the deepest parts of the ocean. A marine biologist by training who became a specialist in abyssal ecosystems, she was one of the pioneers in the exploration of marine environments.

She is now on the international scene thanks to the Ocean & Climate Platform. An organisation she co-founded and of which she has been the vice-president of science since 2014, with the sole aim of saving the ocean.

A major European grant to innovate on CO2 sequestration in tropical oceans

Thanks to a European grant of €2.5 million awarded by the ERC (European Research Council), Sophie Bonnet will be able to implement her HOPE project for “How do diazotrophs shape the ocean biological carbon pump? A global approach, from the single cell to the ecosystem”.

This project aims to study the capacity of our tropical oceans to sequester CO2 via an alternative carbon pump, using innovative tools to

observe the surface and bottom oceans, simultaneously, and at high frequency (from hourly/day scale for several years),
to understand the complexity of processes, from the scale of the cell to the ecosystem.
A total of 313 grants across 24 countries, 5 European grants of this type were awarded to projects carried out in laboratories co-directed by the University of Aix-Marseille.

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