Current Lab Members


Jodi Young (Principal Investigator)

Future of Ice Assistant Professor in Biological Oceanography at the University of Washington.

I am a biological oceanographer who studies the physiology and biochemistry of marine microalgae. I study CO2 fixation by marine algae, with a particular emphasis on Rubisco. I also research the physiological and biochemical adaptations that enable algae to thrive in extreme polar environments, which influences rates of polar primary production, biogeochemical cycles and food web nutrition. I am part of the UW Future of Ice and the UW Astrobiology Program. I love doing polar fieldwork but I hate the cold!?

Ph. 206-543-0744, Email:, CV


Katrin Schmidt (Postdoctoral Researcher)

I’m a postdoc working on the “Building an icy world” project. The goal is to build a new tool to help understanding biological processes in the polar oceans. In addition to working on the design of the ice tank, I’m also interested in diatom biology during polar winter. I gained first experience working with ice diatoms during my PhD in the Mock lab at the University of East Anglia where I investigated the physiological and molecular long-term thermal adaptation mechanisms of Fragilariopsis cylindrus using experimental evolution approaches. In the Young lab I hope to tease out the mechanism by which sea ice diatoms adapt and survive long-term darkness during polar night.

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Hannah Dawson (Graduate Student)

I am pursuing a Dual PhD in Oceanography and Astrobiology and have received funding through a Top Scholar Award and Beatrice Crosby Boothe Endowed Fellowship.

At UW I will be working with sea ice algae, which account for a large portion of polar primary productivity. I am interested in how these organisms are able to photosynthesize in their extreme and variable environment where temperature and salinity vary wildly within the ice. In particular, I will look at metabolic activity, elemental composition and nutritive value. This information can also be applied to questions of Astrobiological concern in order to understand where (and how) life may exist elsewhere in the universe.

Before coming to UW, I finished my B.S. in Biology at the University of Virginia in 2013. There I performed research on gene therapies for the brain cancer glioblastoma. After graduating, I worked as a laboratory technician in a veterinary stem cell research facility developing and implementing regenerative medicine treatments for equine and canine patients.


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Susan Rundell (Graduate Student)

I joined the Young Lab in summer 2018, pursuing a dual-title doctorate in Oceanography and Astrobiology at the University of Washington. I am funded through a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

I received my Bachelor of Sciences in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Yale University in 2016. Prior to my arrival at UW, I conducted research in a variety of biological fields, including fungal endophyte ecology, plant morphometrics, invasive species dispersal, and drug discovery. 

My research in the Young Lab will focus primarily on photosynthesis in polar microalgae, with a particular emphasis on Rubisco. The most abundant enzyme on Earth, and the entry point of atmospheric CO2 into the global carbon cycle, Rubisco has played and will continue to play a critical role in the long-term evolution of the biosphere. A heightened understanding of this crucial enzyme in our oceans—where half of all breathable oxygen in the atmosphere originates—will have important implications for fields as divergent as climate science, bioengineering, and astrobiology. 



Anders Torstensson (Future of Ice Postdoctoral Researcher)

I am a post-doc in the Young and Deming Labs, working on compatible solutes in polar diatoms as part of the Future of Ice Initiative. I finished my PhD at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, studying ecophysiology of sea ice algae. My research mainly addresses how climate change (e.g. ocean warming and acidification) affects cold-adapted microorganisms. Polar areas are very susceptible to climate change, as the most dramatic changes are happening here. After my PhD, I have been working as researcher and scientific diver in Sweden and in western Antarctica, studying the impact of climate change on benthic communities.

Now, I am interested in uptake, production and recycling of compatible solutes in sea ice algae – small molecules that are crucial for osmoregulation in stressful environments, such as sea ice brines. However, very little is still known about compatible solutes in sea ice and its ecological significance in frozen environments.

Ph.(+1) 206-543-0546 Email:


Past Members

Viviana Castillo (Undergraduate, Senior thesis in lab 2017)

Rebecca Schmidt (Undergraduate, Research Project in lab during Winter 2017, Spring 2018)