Dr. Susanne Neuer

Director, Professor and Senior Scientist in the College of Global Futures

Susanne Neuer is a biological oceanographer and marine ecologist. She was a professor in the School of Life Sciences at ASU for almost 20 years, where she taught oceanography, ecology, environmental life sciences and marine biology. Susanne now serves as the founding director of the new School of Ocean Futures in the College for Global Futures/Global Futures Lab at ASU. 

After completing her undergraduate work at the Universities of Heidelberg and Kiel in Germany, she received a Master of Science from the University of Washington and her doctorate from Oregon State University, both in biological oceanography, and she conducted her post-doctoral work in ocean biogeochemistry at the University of Bremen in Germany. Her research group studies the role of ocean life in the carbon cycle and sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, also called the biological carbon pump. Susanne has carried out much of her research in the subtropical Atlantic Ocean, funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA. Her group has also studied sea ice organisms in the Arctic, the role of microorganisms in colonizing microplastic pollution in the ocean, and harmful algal blooms in our local reservoirs. Neuer has been active in advancing women in science and in the faculty, and has served on the national board of the Association for Women In Science, and led a chapter of AWIS at ASU. She was President of ASU’s Faculty Women’s Association and is still active on its executive board. She chaired the 2022 Gordon Research Conference on Ocean Biogeochemistry, and served as president-elect for the University Senate at the Tempe campus before being called to serve in her new role as director.

Read Susanne’s CV

Current Members

Catrina Shurtleff

I am a research specialist with an MS in Microbiology.  I have been maintaining the lab’s in-house phytoplankton culture collection and working with students to carry out experiments on the interactions between pico-phytoplankton and their environment (clay minerals, heterotrophic bacteria). I am also exploring how nano-diatoms, pico-prasinophytes, and pico-cyanobacteria contribute to the biological carbon pump. I am interested in how nutrient limitation affects the aggregation of very small (<5 µm) phytoplankton.

Yuuki Niimi

I am a second-year Ph.D. student in Environmental Life Science. I work with the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences studying zooplankton ecology, taxonomy, and the contribution of their fecal pellets to the oceanic carbon cycle in the Sargasso Sea. I received my B.Sc. in Marine Biology from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and graduated with an MS (M.Res.) in Ocean Science from the University of Southampton. I have a wide range of interests relating to taxonomy, biogeography, and biodiversity as well as the conservation of varying open ocean and deep-sea ecosystems.

Ashley Foster

My name is Ashley Foster and I am a PhD student in the Environmental Life Sciences program. My work focuses on freshwater water management and environmental causes of harmful algal blooms in freshwater lakes. In addition, I study the spatial distribution of water quality parameters in the Gila watershed in metro Phoenix. The goal of my work is to support freshwater management practices with scientific research.

Andrea Brenner

I am a first year Ph.D. student in Environmental Life Sciences and currently researching sinking particles and their microbial communities collected in the Sargasso Sea. The primary goal of my research is to understand how microorganisms change the structure and content of sinking particles that affect the carbon sink. My interests include climate change, oceanography, and environmental chemistry. I hope to become a teacher once I receive my PhD, where I will try to inspire a passion of STEM in the next generations.

Tiffany Lewis

I am an Environmental Life Sciences PhD candidate co-advised by Dr. Susanne Neuer and Beth Polidoro. My research focuses on assessing persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals, and debris in American Samoa. The goals are to evaluate potential hazards of local pollution, listen and incorporate community input, and bring together key players to apply solutions for pollution.

In recent years, I have become increasingly involved in online teaching and curriculum development in SoLS. I am interested in how we can continue to improve the online educational experience, and how we can better support students, TAs, and professors as education continues to move online.

Britni Livar

I am a research specialist in the Neuer lab. I study the growth and aggregate formation of particle-associated heterotrophic marine bacteria from the Sargasso Sea to understand their contribution to the biological carbon pump. I am, also, exploring carbon utilization and the relationship between phytoplankton, bacteria, and their respective exudates.

Alejandro Estrada

I am an undergraduate student majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Music. I routinely prepare media for phytoplankton cultures and have been learning about proper culturing procedures and sterile techniques. I have aided graduate students with carrying out experiments on heterotrophic bacteria aggregation. I am interested in the bacterial communities on microplastics in the ocean and their interaction with phytoplankton.

Kayla Tran

I am a senior undergraduate student pursuing a BS in Microbiology. My research interests involve heterotrophic marine bacteria and their interactions with lithogenous clay particles.

Janna Hynds

My name is Janna Hynds and I am an Honors undergraduate student pursuing concurrent degrees in Conservation Biology and Ecology & Earth and Environmental Studies. I joined the Neuer lab in the hopes of learning more about microbiology and oceans. I am currently working on quantifying and identifying bloom-forming algae in lake samples from Saguaro Lake to investigate if there is a relationship between algae and watercolor in different seasons. I hope to pursue further education in the upcoming years with the goal of spreading ocean conservation knowledge to future STEM students.

Contributing Members

Bianca Nahir Cruz

I graduated with an Environmental Life Sciences Ph.D. where I explored the mechanisms by which pico-phytoplankton contribute to the ocean’s biological carbon pump. My research interests also involved the microbial ecology of sinking particles.

Kassandra Dudek


I graduated with an Environmental Life Science Ph.D. from ASU where I pursued research on how anthropogenic pollutants, namely microplastics, at the ocean surface impact microbial community composition and function, or vice-versa.  Also, I focused on how phytoplankton aggregation enhances the export of microplastics, which act as an artificial microbial reef, from the surface layer and how that enhancement could impact carbon cycling.

Marc A. Fontánez Ortiz

On a more personal level, I am a first-generation student with a B.Sc. in Microbiology from the University of Puerto Rico – Humacao, and a MS in Microbiology at ASU. Although I grew-up on an island, my passion for microbial oceanography became apparent after an internship in Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution through the Partnership Education Program. Thereafter, I have found myself working between disciplines, like astrobiology or biogeochemistry and aspire to obtain a PhD in a related field. For those, who like me, grew-up with socioeconomic disadvantages, just keep striving, open your own doors and always remember your goals and accomplishments.

Nicole Coots

I am a second-year Evolutionary Biology PhD student who is interested in the complexities of endosymbiosis among marine microbial eukaryotes. I am particularly interested in photosymbiosis and the factors that allow this kind of relationship to occur between unrelated organisms.

Past Members


  • Dr. Francesca De Martini
  • Dr. Wei Deng
  • Dr. Jessica Amacher
  • Dr. Kassandra Dudek
  • Dr. Bianca Nahir Cruz
Post-docs and Visiting Scholars:
  • Dr. Stephanie Wilson
  • Dr. Andres Cianca
  • Dr. Peer Helmke
MS and Undergraduates:
  • Catrina Shurtleff
  • Marc A. Fontánez Ortiz
  • Jazmine Russell
  • Megan Wolverton
  • Kyle Kinzler
  • Ian Anderson
  • Ben Brugman
  • Brian Eddie
  • Shikha Gupta
  • Gwendolyn Hoenicke
  • Kate Meltzer
  • Becky Mestek
  • Alexis Pasulka
  • Alissa Rickborn
  • Philip Tarrant
  • Tyler Sawyer
  • Ali Freibott
  • Amy Hansen
  • Marissa Ivie
  • Mark Wiener
  • Kimberly Mohabir
  • Cora McHugh
  • Demetra Hamill
  • Frank Keck
  • Nate Muñoz
  • Holly Celaya
  • Maira Nieto
  • Luis Romero
  • Daniel Jasso-Selles
  • Jonathan Durkin
  • Celeste Delaune
  • Tyla Kanteena
  • Patricia Ibalo
  • Makena Diller
  • Daniel Johnson
  • Nisha Velu
  • Kevin Roy
  • Samantha Brozak
  • Samer Aouad
  • Lindsey Cunningham