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Dr Gemma Kulk

Dr Gemma Kulk

Phytoplankton physiologist

gku4/23/2024 1:09:03    |     +44 (0)1752 633100 (switchboard)

Dr Gemma Kulk specialises in the photophysiology and primary production of marine phytoplankton. Over the past 10 years, Gemma has combined laboratory experiments with field measurements in the North Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, the Arctic Ocean and the western Antarctic Peninsula to study the response of marine phytoplankton to changing environmental conditions. She is especially interested in the role of phytoplankton in the ocean’s carbon cycle. At PML, Gemma studies long term trends in global primary production using ocean colour remote sensing. She also uses ocean-colour remote sensing to investigate the role of lake ecosystems in Cholera epidemics in the South-West of India.

Gemma holds a PhD in Mathematics and Natural Sciences from the University of Groningen and before joining PML in 2018 she has worked in the Netherlands and overseas on various research projects.

  • Simons Collaboration on Computational Biogeochemical Modelling of Marine Ecosystems (CBIOMES), funded by the Simons Foundation (2019-present)
  • Towards non-intrusive, high resolution primary production estimates in the West Antarctic Peninsula region using Fast Repetition Rate fluorometry and experimentally derived electron requirements for carbon fixation (WAP-FRRF), funded by the New Netherlands Polar Programme of the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research (NWO) (2015-2017)

Awards and grants

  • Climate Change Initiative Fellowship| European Space Agency (2019)
  • Travel Grant H2020 Meeting India| Foreign & Commonwealth Office (2018)
  • Travel Grant SCAR OSC 2016| APECS & Antarctic Science Ltd (2016)
  • Subsidy MOOC Energy| University of Groningen (2014)
  • Subsidy Professional education Tanzania, €200,000 | Agentschap NL (2013)
  • Distinction cum laude (top 5%)
  • ASSEMBLE call 1: Remote access| Roscoff Culture Collection (2009)
  • Scholarship Groningen University Fund| University of Groningen (2007)
  • Scholarship Marco Polo Fund| University of Groningen (2007)


  • Kulk, G., Van de Poll, W.H., Buma, A.G.J. (2018). Photophysiology of nitrate limited phytoplankton communities in Kongsfjorden, Spitsbergen. Limnology and Oceanography, doi:10.1002/lno.10963.
  • Rozema, P.D., Kulk, G., Veldhuis, M.P., Buma, A.G.J., Meredith, M.P., Van de Poll, W.H. (2017). Assessing drivers of coastal primary production in Northern Marguerite Bay, Antarctica. Frontiers in Marine Science, doi: 10.3389/fmars.2017.00184.
  • Kulk, G., Van de Poll, W.H., Visser, R.J.W., Buma, A.G.J. (2013). Low nutrient availability reduces high irradiance induced viability loss in oceanic phytoplankton. Limnology and Oceanography 58: 1747-1760. doi: 10.4319/lo.2013.58.5.1747
  • Van de Poll, W.H., Kulk, G., Timmermans, K.R., Brussaard, C.P.D., Van de Woerd, H.J., Kehoe, M.J., Mojica, K.D.A., Visser, R.J.W., Rozema, P.D., Buma, A.G.J. (2013). Phytoplankton chlorophyll-a biomass, composition, and productivity along a temperature and stratification gradient in the northeast Atlantic Ocean. Biogeosciences 10: 4227-4240. doi: 10.5194/bg-10-4227-2013
  • Kulk, G., De Vries, P., Van de Poll, W.H., Visser, R.J.W., Buma, A.G.J. (2012). Temperature-dependent growth and photophysiology of prokaryotic and eukaryotic oceanic picophytoplankton. Marine Ecology Progress Series 466: 43-55. doi: 10.3354/meps09898
  • Alderkamp, A.C., Kulk, G., Buma, A.G.J., Visser, R.J.W., Van Dijken, G.L., Mills, M.M., Arrigo, K.R. (2012). The effect of iron limitation on the photophysiology of Phaeocystis antarctica (Prymnesiophyceae) and Fragilariopsis cylindrus (Bacillariophyceae) under dynamic irradiance. Journal of Phycology 47: 45-59. doi: 10.1111/j.1529-8817.2011.01098.x
  • Kulk, G., Van de Poll, W.H., Visser, R.J.W., Buma, A.G.J. (2011). Distinct differences in photoacclimation potential between prokaryotic and eukaryotic oceanic phytoplankton. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 398: 63-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jembe.2010.12.011