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.



Braakman, R., M.J. Follows and S.W. Chisholm (2017) Metabolic evolution and the self-organization of ecosystems. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. doi:10.1073/pnas.1619573114

Omta, A.-W., D. Talmy, D. Sher, A. Irwin, Z.V. Finkel and M.J. Follows (2016) Extracting phytoplankton physiological traits from batch and chemostat culture data. Accepted, Limnol. Oceanogr. Methods, doi: 10.1002/lom3.10172

Ashkezari, M.D., C.N. Hill, C.N. Follett, G. Forget and M.J. Follows (2016) Oceanic eddy detection and lifetime forecast using machine learning methods. Geophys. Res. Lett. doi: 10.1002/2016GL071269

Knoll, A.H., and M.J. Follows (2016) A bottom up perspective on ecosystem change in the Mesozoic ocean. Proc. Roy. Soc. B., 283: 20161755, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2016.1755

Zakem, E., and M.J. Follows (2016) A theoretical basis for a nanomolar critical oxygen concentration. Limnol. and Oceanogr., doi: 10.1002/lno.10461.

Grossowich, M., D. Roth-Rosenberg, D. Aharonovich, J. Silverman, M.J. Follows and D. Sher (2016) Prochlorococcus in the lab and in silico: the importance of representing exudation. Limnol. and Oceanogr. doi: 10.1002/lno.10463

Inomura, K., J. Bragg and M.J. Follows (2016) A quantitative analysis of the direct and indirect costs of nitrogen fixation: a model based on Azotobacter vinelandii. ISME journal. doi:10.1038/ismej.2016.97

Finkel, Z.V., M.J. Follows, A.J. Irwin. (2016) Size-scaling of macromolecules and chemical energy content in the eukaryotic microalgae. J. Plankton Res. 38: 1151-1162, doi: 10.1093/plankt/fbw057

Clayton, S., Y-C. Lin, M.J. Follows and A. Worden (2016) Co-existence of distinct Ostreococcus ecotypes at an oceanic front. Limnol. & Oceanogr. doi: 10.1002/lno.10373

Lauderdale, J., S. Dutkiewicz, J. Scott, R.G. Williams and M.J. Follows (2016) Quantifying the drivers of ocean-atmosphere CO2 fluxes. Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 30, doi:10.1002/2016GB005400.

Finkel, Z.V., M.J. Follows, J.D. Liefer, C.M. Brown, I. Benner, A.J. Irwin. (2016) Phylogenetic diversity in the macromolecular composition of microalgae. PLoS ONE, 11(5) e0155977, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155977

Cael, B.B. and M.J. Follows (2016) On the temperature dependence of oceanic export efficiency. Geophys.Res. Lett. 43, doi: 10.1002/2016GL068877.

Ward, B.A. and M.J. Follows (2016) Marine mixotrophy increases trophic transfer efficiency, mean organism size and vertical carbon flux. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., doi:10.1073/pnas.1517118113

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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