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Jeffrey Morris headshot.

Associate Professor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
3136 East Science Hall, Science & Engineering Complex
(205) 934-9498

Research and Teaching Interests: Experimental Evolution, Phytoplankton Ecophysiology, Biology Education Research

Office Hours: By appointment


  • B.S., Kennesaw State University, Biology
  • Ph.D., University of Tennessee, Microbiology

Dr. Morris is a microbiologist whose research focuses on the ecology and evolution of marine bacteria. Current work in the Morris Lab, funded by the National Science Foundation, looks at the interactions between algae and heterotrophic bacteria in the ocean.

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  • Research Interests

    Our research focuses on the base of the marine food web — microbial photosynthetic organisms called phytoplankton. We’re interested in how ecology and evolution intertwine to determine these organisms’ fates, and consequently, the fates of the vast communities they feed.

    Our researchers make organisms evolve in the lab. We also get on boats and study our favorite green critters in their native habitats: some of the most exotic environments in the world. We leverage our skills in molecular biology and computation to try to predict what our world will look like 100 years from now.

    Ongoing projects in the lab include experimental investigations of the Black Queen Hypothesis, which is a new theory of evolution that predicts that cooperation can evolve in communities that depend on “leaky” biological functions. We’re also interested in using laboratory evolution to find out how quickly important marine algal species can adapt to the changes humans are causing to their environments. There are also diverse other projects ongoing, led largely by the ingenuity and interests of our graduate students, ranging from education research to nanotech medical applications. We’re very open-minded — if you’ve got research interests in microbial evolution and are looking for a lab to work in, send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and tell us your crazy ideas!

  • Recent Courses
    • BY271: Biology of Microorganisms
    • BY405: Microbial Physiology
    • BY407: Microbial Ecology
    • BY429: Evolution
  • Select Publications
    • Goswami, Anuradha, Sarah J. Adkins-Jablonsky, Marcelo Malisano Barreto Filho, Michelle D. Schilling, Alex Dawson, Sabrina Heiser, Aisha O’Connor, Melissa Walker, Qutia Roberts, and J. Jeffrey Morris. 2023. Heavy metal pollution impacts soil bacterial community structure and antimicrobial resistance at the Birmingham 35th Avenue Superfund Site. Microbiology Spectrum 10.1128/spectrum.02426-22.
    • Barreto Filho, Marcelo M., Zhiying Lu, Melissa Walker, and J. Jeffrey Morris. 2022. Community context and pCO2 impact the transcriptome of the “helper” bacterium Alteromonas in co-culture with picocyanobacteria. ISME Communications 2: 113.
    • Morris, J. Jeffrey, Andrew L. Rose, and Zhiying Lu. 2022. Reactive oxygen species in the World Ocean and their impacts on marine ecosystems. Redox Biology 52:102285.
    • Adkins-Jablonsky, Sarah J., Colleen M. Clark, Spiridon E. Papoulis, Matthew D. Kuhl, and J. Jeffrey Morris. 2021. Market forces determine the distribution of a leaky function in a simple microbial community. Proceedings of the National Academies of Science USA 118:e2109813118.
    • Adkins-Jablonsky, Sarah J., Erin Arnold, Rachel Rock, Rosianna Gray, and J. Jeffrey Morris. 2021. Agar art: A CURE for the microbiology laboratory. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education e00121-21.
  • Academic Distinctions and Professional Societies

    Academic Distinctions:

    • Simons Foundation Marine Microbial Ecology and Evolution Early Career Research Fellow (2019-2022)
    • Communications Director, Phycological Society of America (2016-2022)
    • NASA Astrobiology Institute Postdoctoral Fellow (2013-2014)
    • Harold C. Bold Award (2010)

    Professional Societies:

    • Heterodox Academy
    • Phycological Society of America (PSA)
    • American Society for Microbiology (ASM)
    • Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO)
    • Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research (SABER)
    • Faculty of 1000
  • Graduate Students

    Current Graduate Students:

    • Melissa Walker (PhD Student)
    • Marcelo Malisano Barreto Filho (PhD Student)