Morris named recipient of Simons Foundation research grant

A UAB biology professor has received a grant from the Simons Foundation to research ocean microbes.
Written by: Emily Stembridge
Media contact: Alicia Rohan

Morris2Jeffrey Morris, Ph.D., Department of Biology Jeffrey Morris, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has been awarded a three-year, $540,000 early career fellowship by the Simons Foundation to support research on fundamental problems in marine microbial ecology.

Morris’ research focuses on his “Black Queen Hypothesis,” developed with Rich Lenski, Ph.D. at Michigan State University and Erik Zinser, Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The hypothesis explains how reductive evolution can lead to ecological marketplace exchanges. As a biology professor at UAB, Morris continues to study the evolution and ecology of algal-bacterial interactions and microbial markets. He is also passionate about ensuring undergraduate students are exposed to authentic practices and research in teaching laboratories. 

Through his grant, Morris hopes to make predictions of the ocean’s future more accurate. Morris will research and further understand how rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere will affect ocean microbes. He will study the evolution of bacteria in real time and the changes expected to happen in the ocean between now and the year 2100. The research looks at how organisms that are symbiotic partners today might become antagonists in the future, which could affect how much food there is in the ocean for sea creatures, such as fish.