Victoria J. Orphan: Deep Partnerships

Credit: © Ric Frazier Productions" /> Credit: © Ric Frazier Productions Victoria Orphan wanted to be a marine biologist ever since kindergarten. She even wrote it down in a Dr. Seuss book called My Book About Me. It still sits in her childhood bedroom, which she had painted to resemble a deep-sea scene. At the University of California, Santa Barbara, Orphan studied marine biology and was headed in the direction of big-game ecology when she took a course with Ed DeLong,

Stuart Jacobson
Nov 30, 2006
<figcaption> Credit: © Ric Frazier Productions</figcaption>
Credit: © Ric Frazier Productions

Victoria Orphan wanted to be a marine biologist ever since kindergarten. She even wrote it down in a Dr. Seuss book called My Book About Me. It still sits in her childhood bedroom, which she had painted to resemble a deep-sea scene.

At the University of California, Santa Barbara, Orphan studied marine biology and was headed in the direction of big-game ecology when she took a course with Ed DeLong, now a microbiologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She had a realization. Methodological advances, especially in phylogenetics, were beginning to open new doors for microbiologists. Meanwhile, she says, "There were too many questions and not enough answers in microbial ecology."

Orphan did her doctorate work under DeLong, and he encouraged her to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, where her work carried her to the sea floor. She studied anaerobic oxidation of methane...