Amala Mahadevan is a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Her interests lie in exploring processes that shape the oceanic environment and contribute to the earth's climate. She uses models and observations to study transport and mixing processes in the ocean and their implications for oceanic biogeochemistry and ecology. She is particularly interested in understanding the link between physical and biological processes in the oceans, which is of relevance for the oceanic carbon cycle with which the earth’s climate is so intrinsically linked.
During her fellowship year, Mahadevan is devoting time to understanding how the physical complexity of upper ocean dynamics at scales of 0.1–10 kilometers affects oceanic ecosystems. Life in the ocean relies on the photosynthetic production of phytoplankton in the sunlit surface layer, and the complex dynamics of this layer, coupled with the availability of light and nutrients, leads to highly heterogeneous growth and distribution of phytoplankton. Organisms rely on the aggregation of food for survival, with a large fraction of the biological activity concentrated in hot spots. Mahadevan would to like examine how the variability and episodic nature of physical processes affects the heterogeneity productivity and resilience of oceanic ecosystems.
Mahadevan, who earned her PhD at Stanford University, is the recipient of several research grants from National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. She is engaged in an active research program with her collaborators, postdoctoral scientists, and PhD students in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program.