Skip to content
Curtin University
Staff Profile

Associate Professor Marco Coolen

Associate Professor Marco Coolen Associate Professor Marco Coolen
Position Associate Professor
Faculty Faculty of Science and Engineering
School School of Science
Department Department of Chemistry
Campus Bentley Campus
Location 500.4116
Phone +61 8 9266 7808
Email Marco.Coolen@curtin.edu.au
ORCID orcid.org/0000-0002-0417-920X
ResearcherID www.researcherid.com/rid/B-8263-2015
Google Scholar scholar.google.com.au/citations?user=bk6RpMoAAAAJ&view_op=list_works&sortby=pubdate
Scopus Author Identifier www.scopus.com/authid/detail.url?authorId=6603365440

Brief Summary

I am a molecular palaeoecologist and geomicrobiologist interested in studing past ecosystem-climate or ecosystem-anthropocene interactions using sedimentary ancient DNA paired with a variety of environmental/climate proxies. By way of example, I am currently leading a project sponsored by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) to reconstruct ecosystem-climate interactions resulting from long-term changes in Monsoon strength and coupled oxygem miniumum zone (OMZ) expansion in the Indian Ocean. In addition, I am interested in studying the bioavailability and fate of organic matter in the marine and terrestrial geological record, which is of importance for our understanding of past climates and of the contemporary carbon cycle. For example, using ultrahigh throughput omics approaches (e.g. metatranscriptomics) I plan to unravel microbial activities and enzymatic pathways associated with deep subsurface hydrocarbon reservoirs, source rocks, and serpentinite-hosted environments.

Overview

Since January 2015 I am an Associate Professor of Geomicrobiology and the Deputy Director of the WA Organic and Isotope Geochemistry Center at Curtin University. As a postdoctoral researcher at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) in the group of Prof. Sinninghe Damsté, and during the previous decade as a faculty member at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), MA, USA, I have developed into a renowned leader in the exciting field of sedimentary paleogenomics - the use of ancient DNA methods to study preserved genetic signatures in lake and marine sedimentary records (i.e., the paleome). This approach enables reconstruction of past planktonic communities including the overwhelming majority of non-fossilizing taxa, which traditionally have escaped identification. In addition, the paleome can be used to reconstruct coastal vegetation changes and to identify biological sources of lipid biomarkers. Temporal changes in plankton distributions caused by biological factors such as viral termination of algal blooms can also be reconstructed from the paleome. Thus, the paleome can greatly improve our understanding of the main drivers of past ecosystem changes. The molecular techniques being used in my lab involve extraction of nucleic acids from geological samples, taxon-specific quantitative PCR, Illumina sequencing of (sedimentary) metagenomes and transcriptomes, and the use of appropriate bioinformatics and statistical tools to analyze these datasets. My work is by its nature highly collaborative and multidisciplinary, as paleogenomic information is often most valuable when integrated into broader paleo-environmental studies, notably when combined with organic proxies (lipid biomarkers and isotope geochemistry). As a result, I established collaborations with various high impact research groups worldwide. At Curtin University I am already closely collaborating with the founding director of the WA-OIGC, organic geochemist Prof. Kliti Grice, and her colleagues. My research program is not limited to assessing how ocean, lake, and terrestrial surface ecosystems have responded to past climate- and anthropogenically driven perturbations. In addition, I am interested in studying the bioavailability and fate of organic matter in the geologic record, which is of importance for our understanding of the contemporary carbon cycle. In this context, I have recently studied the activities of methanogenic communities in formation waters of Devonian gas shales, and I have explored metatranscriptomic datasets to generate a holistic overview of microbial processes associated with thawing permafrost in a global warming scenario. A similar strategy will be used to explore the metabolic properties of, for example, petroleum-associated and serpentinite-hosted deep subsurface microbial communities. 

Back to top

Memberships, Awards and Training

AWARDS

PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES:

Back to top

Employment History

Associate Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), MA, USA: May 2009 – January 2015.

Assistant Scientist, WHOI, May 2005-May 2009.

Postdoctoral Investigator, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (Royal NIOZ), Department of Marine Biogeochemistry and Toxicology, the Netherlands, August 2000 to May 2005. Sponsor: Prof. Dr. Jaap S. Sinninghe Damsté.

Postdoctoral Investigator, Center for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen, the Netherlands, Nov. 1999 to August 2000. Sponsor: Prof. Dr. Larry Forney.

Back to top

Teaching

I am currently co-advising two PhD students at Curtin University. As an associate scientist at WHOI I have advised and supervised two postdoctoral researchers, one PhD student, and nine graduate students. I was furthermore on the thesis committee of two additional PhD students. While at the Royal NIOZ I supervised three graduate students. During my PhD in Oldenburg I have taught a graduate course on Ecology and Physiology of microorganisms, a graduate course on microbiological methods, as well as an intense practical course for advanced students who co-operated in the different research projects of the department.

Back to top

Research Interests

Back to top

Publications

2016

Book Chapters (Research)

Journal Articles (Research)

2015

Journal Articles (Research)

2014

Journal Articles (Research)

2013

Journal Articles (Research)

2012

Journal Articles (Research)

2011

Journal Articles (Research)

2009

Journal Articles (Research)

2008

Journal Articles (Research)

2007

Journal Articles (Research)

2006

Journal Articles (Research)

Conference Articles (Research)

2005

Journal Articles (Research)

2004

Journal Articles (Research)

Conference Articles (Research)

2002

Journal Articles (Research)

2001

Journal Articles (Research)

2000

Journal Articles (Research)

1999

Journal Articles (Research)

1998

Journal Articles (Research)

1997

Journal Articles (Research)

Additional publication categories

2014

Journal Articles (Scholarly/Professional)

2007

Journal Articles (Scholarly/Professional)

  • Coolen, M., and J. Overmann. 2007.“Erratum: 217 000-Year-old DNA sequences of green sulfur bacteria in Mediterranean sapropels and their implications for the reconstruction of the paleoenvironment (Environmental Microbiology (2007) 9, (238-249)).”Environmental Microbiology 9 (4).
  • Wuchter, C., B. Abbas, M. Coolen, L. Herfort, J. Van Bleijswijk, P. Timmers, M. Strous, E. Teira, G. Herndl, J. Middelburg et al. 2007.“Erratum: Archaeal nitrification in the ocean (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2006) 103, 33, (12317-12322) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0600756103)).”Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA 104 (13).

2006

Journal Articles (Scholarly/Professional)

  • Sinninghe Damsté, J., and M. Coolen. 2006.“Fossil DNA in Cretaceous black shales: Myth or reality?.”Astrobiology 6 (2): 299-302.
Back to top