Skip to Main Content

Faculty/Staff Members


Phone: 4407
Office: A10 Chalon

Adriane Jones - PhD

Associate Professor, Biological Sciences

PhD, University of Southern California, Environmental Science
BA, University of California - Santa Cruz, Marine Biology
BA, University of California - Santa Cruz, Environmental Studies


I am an aquatic molecular ecologist interested in relationships between community structure and function within microbial assemblages. Microbes [bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes (fungi and protists)] in aquatic ecosystems are the foundation of food webs, control energy flux, and drive carbon and nutrient cycling. The Census of Marine Life estimates that there are 38,000 different kinds of microbes in just one liter of seawater! Owing to their incredible taxonomic and metabolic diversity studying the factors governing the assembly, maintenance, and resilience of microbial communities creates a formidable challenge.

I am particularly interested in microbial community variation over time and in response to environmental stressors particularly at the urban coastal interface. Harmful algal blooms (HABs)-the numerical dominance within a community of a single noxious or toxic species of alga-are high profile examples of disrupted microbial community structure. Such disruptions can set off far reaching trophic cascades including injury to fish, birds, and mammals (including humans) with subsequent environmental and economic consequences. Pseudo-nitzschia sp. often forms toxic blooms off the coast of Los Angeles. This microscopic diatom alga produces the neurotoxin domoic acid, which moves through the food web and can negatively affect seabirds and marine mammals. My research uses a combination of molecular methods such as quantitative polymerase chain reaction and DNA/RNA sequencing with traditional microscopy to identify and monitor harmful algal species and to characterize the microbial food web as a whole.

I continue to foster my existing collaborations at the University of Southern California including a genome sequencing project of a harmful algal bloom forming organism. In addition, I am building partnerships with local nonprofit organizations such as Los Angeles Waterkeepers and Heal the Bay. I am always looking for new ways to engage my students in research. I have mentored six MSMU undergraduates and I started a marine biology field course that runs on Catalina Island over spring break.

I am driven to understand how natural and anthropogenic factors impact microbial dynamics and ecological function in the urban coastal ocean of the LA basin. I hope my research, and my team of student researchers, will fundamentally link community structure to ecosystem function and thus provide environmentally relevant information about the status of aquatic microbial communities and how they might react to or buffer environmental change.