ERC Advanced Grant for Gerhard J. Herndl

Three of the 12 ERC Advanced Grants for Austrian research projects have been awarded to professors at the Faculty of Life Sciences! Gerhard Herndl, Thomas Higham and Uli Technau will each receive an ERC Advanced Grant of up to three million euros.

About Gerhard J. Herndl

Gerhard J. Herndl is a marine ecologist and has been investigating biogeochemical cycles and microbial communities and their activities in the deep sea for more than two decades. Before he was appointed Professor of Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography at the University of Vienna in 2008, he was Head of the Department of Biological Oceanography at the Netherlands Marine Research Institute and Professor at the University of Groningen. This is Herndl's second ERC Advanced Grant, the first dating back to 2011, when he also received the FWF's Wittgenstein Award. He has published more than 300 articles in scientific journals and is one of the most cited marine ecologists worldwide.

Marine snow in the deep sea

In their "NEREIDES" project, Gerhard J. Herndl and his team are investigating unknown aspects of the marine carbon cycle. On two research cruises with the Dutch research vessel Pelagia, the scientists are measuring the flow of organic material from the sunlit surface layers into the deep sea in the Atlantic.

This particle rain, known as "marine snow", is the main source of food for all life in the deep sea. As part of the project, the researchers are collecting samples of this large pool of organic matter and determining its chemical and biological components. The aim is to determine the origin, source and turnover of this large pool of neutrally buoyant particles as well as the significance of deep-sea marine snow in the Atlantic for the (micro)organisms living there and to investigate its role as a carbon sink under changing climate conditions.