Michelle Jungbluth, PhD main menu

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Biological Oceanographer

I am an ecologist, naturalist, and marine biologist who uses molecular techniques to answer important ecological questions.

In my career as a scientist I have focused on a variety of studies of zooplankton - the animals that drift in the sea.

I have dabbled in diet studies of some very important marine organisms called copepods, and specifically diet studies in their early life stages called nauplii. Copepod nauplii can be very abundant in marine environments, and results from one of my studies suggest that they can be important in removing algae and other prey items when they are abundant.

In order to study copepod nauplii at a finer scale, I also developed a DNA-based method to study marine invertebrate population dynamics. To do so, I measured the quantity of a specific fragment of DNA in different aged animals of various species and developed a way to translate that into abundance or biomass of that species. Then I used that to back out animal abundance in size fractionated samples collected with a net from the ocean that were then ground up and total DNA extracted from them and measured with this technique. This work will be published soon and I am excited to share the results of my population dynamic studies with the world in the near future.

Currently, I am working on a project using high-throughput sequencing to study the diets of a threatened species of fish in the San Francisco Estuary - the longfin smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthyes). This fish is one of many struggling fishes in the San Francisco Estuary ecosystem and my work will help us to understand what food resources they need to survive and whether food is what is limiting their populations.

My technical expertise is primarily in DNA barcoding, quantitative PCR-based methods, and now next-generation sequencing. I have also dabbled in DNA barcoding of deep-sea larval invertebrates - a location where we know almost nothing about organism diversity and even less about larval ecology.

Twitter: @ShellyFish311

Curriculum Vitae

Full CV (9 pages)

Professional Appointments

2017-present, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, San Francisco State University

2016, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Hawaii Pacific University


2016  PhD  Oceanography, University of Hawaii

2012 MS Oceanography, University of Hawaii

2007  BS   Biology, University of Wisconsin

Selected Awards and Honors

Delta Science Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, NOAA-Sea Grant California, May 2017-May 2019

Invited to speak during the closing session of the 6th international ICES/PICES Zooplankton Production Symposium, Bergen, Norway, May 2016

Awarded funding to hold a professional development workshop: Improvisation for Scientists, Honolulu, HI, April 2015

Outstanding Student Presentation Award, 2014 Ocean Sciences Conference, Honolulu, HI, February 2014


Introduction to Oceanography, Lead Teaching Assistant

Mentor for undergraduates in the laboratory


One of the perks of being a scientist is attending conferences and being invited to present about my work! I have been lucky enough to present in locations like Honolulu, San Francisco, New Orleans, Bergen Norway, and Naples Italy!

Check out my full CV for more details!

Leadership Training

Exhibit Leader School of Ocean Earth Science and Technology Open House outreach event- Zooplankton: Microscopic Ocean Drifters, 2013, 2015, 2017

Officer Professional Development and Training Program, 2015-2016

Chair Science Communicators ‘Ohana, 2014-2015

President Na Kama Kai oceanography graduate student organization, 2014-2015

Member Mentoring Network, 2014-2015

Organizer Student committee member representative of The Oceanography Society, for the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting, 2013-2014

Vice President Na Kama Kai Oceanography graduate student organization, 2013-2014

Founder and regular contributor, Real Science at SOEST Blog, 2013-2016

Professional Activities

Member of: Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, The Oceanography Society, World Association of Copepodologists, American Microscopical Society, The Crustacean Society, Graduate Women in Science, American Association for Advancement of Science

Reviewer for: Marine Biology, Journal of Plankton Research, Bioinvasions Records

My research


Google Scholar     LinkedIn     ResearchGate    

My Research

I am currently working on an exciting project as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the San Francisco State University Estuary & Ocean Science Center (formerly Rombeg Tiburon Center) with Dr. Wim Kimmerer. This project will utilize my experience in zooplankton ecology, identification and molecular biological methods to reveal the invisible contributors to the diets of threatened fishes in the San Francisco Estuary using next-generation sequencing techniques. Thanks to Sea Grant and the Delta Science Fellows program for this exciting opportunity, and thanks to the State and Federal Contractors Water Agency (SFCWA) for funding my work. Stay tuned, I will be very active in the San Francisco Estuary research community over the next few years - and hopefully beyond!

In the Oceanography department at UH Manoa I studied the role of copepod nauplii in marine ecosystems, including their response to storm events in Kane'ohe Bay, Hawaii. My work will give us a better understanding of how important nauplii are as grazers of algae and whether they can have an impact on their prey populations(See Pubs & Presentations - Jungbluth et al 2017 MEPS). Using a novel DNA-based technique that I developed during my master's degree (See Pubs & Presentations- Jungbluth et al. 2013), I could estimate the abundance or biomass of nauplii by species. This was not possible in a diverse ecosystem when armed with only a microscope and no species-specific larval-identifying characteristics.

I also have worked with Dr. Eric Vetter at Hawaii Pacific University on a short-term, collaborative project describing the molecular-taxonomic diversity of larval invertebrate species present near the abyssal seafloor. Stay tuned for exciting discoveries of new genetic diversity at the bottom of the sea!

All Aboard!

A large portion of my dissertation focused on plankton dynamics in a large, productive subtropical embayment on Oahu, Hawaii, so I have spent a lot of time on a 12-foot Boston Whaler, rain or shine, collecting my precious zooplankton to look at what lies below the surface. But I also love ship-based research, and have been lucky enough to spend over 80 days at sea on 5 different ships with scientists from many countries getting to contribute to studies on zooplankton around the worlds oceans. Thankfully I do NOT get seasick!


Google Scholar     ResearchGate     LinkedIn    


Selph, K. E., Goetze, E., Jungbluth, M. J., Lenz, P. H., and G. Kolker. (2018) Microbial food web connections and rates in a subtropical embayment. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 590: 19-34. doi: 10.3354/meps12432

download pdf

Jungbluth M. J., Selph K. E., Lenz P. H., Goetze E. (2017) Species-specific grazing and significant trophic impacts by two species of copepod nauplii. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 572: 57-76. doi: 10.3354/meps12139

download pdf

Jungbluth M. J., Selph K. E., Lenz P. H., and E. Goetze. (2017) Incubation duration effects on copepod naupliar grazing estimates. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 494: 54-62. doi: 10.1016/j.jembe.2017.05.005

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Roncalli, V., Jungbluth, M. J., and P. Lenz. (2016). Glutathione S-transferase regulation in Calanus finmarchicus feeding on the toxic dinoflagellate Alexandrium fundyense. PLOS One. 11(7): e0159563. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0159563

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Goetze, E., & M. J. Jungbluth. (2013). Acetone preservation for zooplankton molecular studies. Journal of Plankton Research, 35(5), 972-981. doi: 10.1093/plankt/fbt035

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Jungbluth, M. J., Goetze, E, & P. H. Lenz. (2013). Measuring copepod naupliar abundance in a subtropical bay using quantitative PCR. Marine Biology, 160: 3125-3141. doi: 10.1007/s00227-013-2300-y

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Jungbluth, M. J., & P. H. Lenz. (2013). Copepod diversity in a subtropical bay based on a fragment of the mitochondrial COI gene. Journal of Plankton Research, 35(3), 630-643. doi: 10.1093/plankt/fbt015

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Millette, N. C., Jungbluth, M. J., Johnson, W., Suter, E., and J. Grosse. Hidden in plain sight: The importance of cryptic interactions in marine plankton. Submitted.

Oceanographic Expeditions and Field Work

R/V Questuary, USGS Arcoplites, and USGS Munson - Longfin smelt 24-h sampling series for juvenile fishes in San Pablo Bay, 2 nights, chief scientist of night operations, 2017

NOAA Oscar Elton Sette - Leeward Oahu Pelagic Ecosystem Characterization, 10 days at sea, 2017

RRS James Clark Ross – Naupliar studies across the Atlantic (and the equator!), North to South, 46 days at sea, 2014

R/V Falkor – Naupliar grazing in the open ocean, Station ALOHA North of Oahu, HI, and the Molokai channel, 6 days at sea, 2014

R/V Kilo Moana -Zooplankton and mesopelagic fish diet studies, Station ALOHA, 6 days at sea, 2011

R/V Kilo Moana - Student cruise, West Oahu, 2 days at sea, 2011

R/V AtlantisROV JASON-II cruise volunteer, Juan de Fuca Ridge, 18 days at sea, 2010

Field sampling time series, Kaneohe Bay, HI, over 75 days of coastal work, 2010-2013


Coastal Plankton Ecology


Link to BCO-DMO Data Entry

Photos of my Research and Science Adventures

Under construction! Apologies for any wonky-ness.

Research Adventures

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Microscope ID of zooplankton on the R/V Sette        
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Filtering size-fractionated copepods on the R/V Sette   A seahorse we saw in a plankton collection off West Oahu on the R/V Sette    
    Scenic views from Sea, off West Oahu, on the R/V Sette    
LFS1   LFS2   LFS3
View of San Pablo Bay from a small research vessel   Tools of the trade: A 500 µm and a 150 µm net for collection of plankton and micronekton   Spring samples tend to have a lot of suspended sediment in them in the San Francisco Estuary
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Field work selfie, in San Pablo Bay   Amazing shot of the net being submerged for sampling from the R/V Falkor, go pro attached to the tow line    
Falkor3   Falkor4   Falkor5
Me picking nauplii at the microscope at sea   Working in the live lab on the R/V Falkor   R/V Falkor
Falkor6   Moc1   Moc2
    10 m MOCNESS net - it is truly a beast to wrangle and collects lots of really exciting samples from different depths of interest    
JDF1   KM1123   KBay2010
My first oceanographic research cruise ever - on the R/V Atlantis, 2010       My territory - Kaneohe bay, Oahu, Hawaii. Where I spent my dissertation studies.
Amt1   AMT2   AMT3
THE most beautiful sunrise I've ever seen: Somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on the RRS James Clark Ross, 2014   We are LITERALLY at the equator, on the Atlantic, at this moment!   RRS James Clark Ross, a British Antarctic Survey vessel, an icebreaker!
AMT4   AMT4   AMT6
Rough seas on the JCR        
AMT7   AMT8   AMT9
AMT10   AMT11   AMT12
Crossing the line.   Tools of the trade.   Group on deck to admire our first sight of land, the Falkland Islands, after 46 days at sea

Community Outreach

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SOEST Open House 2013   SOEST Open House 2015   2015
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    SOEST Open House 2017 - gets better and better every year!    
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    Chalkboard before the madness...   Chalkboard after! Kids love drawing "plankton" on the chalkboard
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    A fun addition to our exhibit this year. Holy chum bucket!    
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Sea Life Images

This is just a small subsample of the creatures I love to see and often take photos of while at sea! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or want to know more!

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Spoils of San Francisco Estuary sampling for fish larvae, you can see them! (2017)   Larval squid of many sizes (aww)   Billfish larvae from offshore Oahu, Hawaii
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Barreleye fish from Falkor cruise, offshore Oahu, Hawaii   Vellela vellela, AMT cruise   Pteropod.
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Flying fish on Atlantic Ocean (photo: Ian Brown)       Pelagic polychaete worm, Atlantic Ocean, 2014
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Mesopelagic fish   Heteropod (a type of mollusk)   Annelid worm? This one is a mystery! Atlantic Ocean 2014


mjjungbluth @ gmail(dot)com

You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram


Communicating our work to a broad audience, including the general public, policymakers, and scientific peers, is critical to making progress in the fast-paced world we live in. I have devoted much time and attention in recent years to becoming a better communicator through speaking, writing, prepared presentations, and even impromptu!

That is why colleagues and I in Hawaii created the Science Communicators 'Ohana, a Registered Independent Organization at UH Mānoa, created for scientists to get together and explore effective methods for communicating our science with each other and the public.

Through workshops organized with the 'Ohana, we have provided the University of Hawaii community with opportunities to improve their non-scientific writing, oral presentation, public speaking, and "elevator pitches". This was important to me before the 'Ohana; A collaborator and I decided we, as early career scientists and stewards of our Earth, really needed an outlet for the students to practice outreach writing, so we created the SOEST Graduate Student Blog . The blog was created as a platform through which graduate scientists in the School of Ocean Earth Science and Technology at UH Manoa could improve their communication skills. Since then this blog has expanded to include articles written by Postdoctoral Scholars and other Researchers in the broader UH Manoa scientific community.