MIT EAPS Directory

Michael Follows

Associate Professor
Secondary Appointment - Civil and Environmental Engineering

Mick Follows seeks to understand how the interactions of physical, chemical and biological processes modulate the structure and function of marine microbial communities and regulate the oceanic cycles of carbon and nutrient elements on global and climate scales. Using idealized theory, numerical models and the analysis of observed data he and his group seek to identify the relationships of individuals and communities to their environment, connecting cellular-scale processes to global microbial community structure. In particular, his team has created a marine ecosystem model that, when initialized with many phytoplankton types whose physiological traits have been determined stochastically, results in emergent community structure and biogeography consistent with known distributions of microbes in the global oceans.

Follows joined the MIT faculty in 2013. He is a lead on the MIT Darwin Project.



Alice Soccodato, Francesco d'Ovidio, Marina Lévy, Oliver Jahn, Michael J. Follows, Silvia De Monte (2016), Estimating planktonic diversity through spatial dominance patterns in a model ocean, Marine Genomics, Available online 17 May 2016, doi: 10.1016/j.margen.2016.04.015

Zoe V. Finkel , Mick J. Follows, Justin D. Liefer, Chris M. Brown, Ina Benner, Andrew J. Irwin (2016), Phylogenetic Diversity in the Macromolecular Composition of Microalgae, PLOS one Published: May 26, 2016, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155977

Hajoon Song, John Marshall, Michael J. Follows, Stephanie Dutkiewicz, Gaël Forget (2016), Source waters for the highly productive Patagonian shelf in the southwestern Atlantic, Journal of Marine Systems, Available online 3 March 2016, doi: 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2016.02.009

Lionel Guidi, Samuel Chaffron, Lucie Bittner, Damien Eveillard, Abdelhalim Larhlimi, Simon Roux, Mick Follows, et al. (2016), Plankton networks driving carbon export in the oligotrophic oceanNature, doi: 10.1038/nature16942

Ben A. Ward and Michael J. Follows (2016), Marine mixotrophy increases trophic transfer efficiency, mean organism size, and vertical carbon flux, PNAS early online edition, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1517118113

Dutkiewicz, S. and Hickman, A. E. and Jahn, O. and Gregg, W. W. and Mouw, C. B. and Follows, M. J. (2015) Capturing optically important constituents and properties in a marine biogeochemical and ecosystem model Biogeosciences, vol. 12, no. 14, pp. 4447-4481, doi: 10.5194/bg-12-4447-2015

Dutkiewicz, S. and Morris, J. J. and Follows, M. J. and Scott, J. and Levitan, O. and Dyhrman, S. T. and Berman-Frank, I. (2015) Impact of ocean acidification on the structure of future phytoplankton communities Nature Climate Change, vol. 5, no. 11, pp. 1002-+, doi: 10.1038/nclimate2722

Levy, M. and Jahn, O. and Dutkiewicz, S. and Follows, M. J. and d'Ovidio, F. (2015) The dynamical landscape of marine phytoplankton diversity Journal of the Royal Society Interface, vol. 12, no. 111, doi: 10.1098/rsif.2015.0481

Sauterey, B. and Ward, B. A. and Follows, M. J. and Bowler, C. and Claessen, D. (2015) When everything is not everywhere but species evolve: an alternative method to model adaptive properties of marine ecosystems Journal of Plankton Research, vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 28-47, doi: 10.1093/plankt/fbu078

Villar, E. and Farrant, G. K. and Follows, M. and Garczarek, L., et al. (2015) Environmental characteristics of Agulhas rings affect interocean plankton transport Science, vol. 348, no. 6237, doi: 10.1126/science.1261447

Weitz, J. S. and Stock, C. A. and Wilhelm, S. W. and Bourouiba, L., et al. (2015) A multitrophic model to quantify the effects of marine viruses on microbial food webs and ecosystem processesIsme Journal, vol. 9, no. 6, pp. 1352-1364, doi: 10.1038/ismej.2014.220

Worden, A. Z. and Follows, M. J. and Giovannoni, S. J. and Wilken, S. and Zimmerman, A. E. and Keeling, P. J. (2015) Rethinking the marine carbon cycle: Factoring in the multifarious lifestyles of microbes Science, vol. 347, no. 6223, pp. 735-+, doi: 10.1126/science.1257594

Google Scholar Profile


Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology (2013) | MIT Global Habitat Longevity Award (2006) | Royal Society European Exchange Post-doctoral Fellowship (1991)

Contact Information

t: 617 253-5939





Ph.D., School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, 1991
M.Sc., Atmospheric Sciences (with Distinction) School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, 1987
B.Sc., Physics (with Honors, Class 1) Department of Physics, University of Leeds, UK

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