[Plants & Plankton] Chris Bowler joins the French Academy of Agriculture

© Chris Bowler / Fondation Tara Expéditions

Chris Bowler, head of the Plant & Algal Genomics team at the Institute of Biology of the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) and scientific coordinator of the Tara Oceans expedition, was recently elected to the French Academy of Agriculture.

This distinction acknowledges the excellence of the work Chris has carried out since he joined the ENS as a CNRS director of research.
Chris and his team study plants and diatoms – a major constituent of plankton, essential to our life on Earth – focusing on the response of photosynthetic organisms to environmental changes at the genomic level.

Chris Bowler, coordinateur scientifique de Tara Oceans à bordChris Bowler, scientific coordinator of Tara Oceans on board © S.Bollet / Tara Expeditions Foundation

After initial training in molecular biology at the University of Warwick (United Kingdom), in 1986 Chris joined Marc Van Montagu, one of the founding fathers of plant transgenesis, and Dirk Inzé in their genetics laboratory at Ghent University (Belgium). Here, he completed his PhD with a molecular study of plant resistance to environmental stress factors. Then, after four years at Rockefeller University in New York (USA), he joined the zoological station Anton Dohrn in Naples, where he discovered the fascinating world of marine diatoms. These photosynthetic unicellular protists play a crucial role in the functioning of marine ecosystems. In 2002, the globetrotting scientist settled down at the École Normale Supérieure near Paris where he has been studying plants and diatoms ever since.

Chris has been one of the scientific coordinators of the Tara Oceans project since 2009. Thanks to the thousands of samples collected during the Tara Oceans expedition, Chris identifies the distribution and role of diatoms in our planet’s oceans. He studies how these organisms at the base of marine food chain respond to climate change. His research work was rewarded in 2010 with the CNRS silver medal.

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