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Dr. Rebecca J. Gast

Associate Scientist with Tenure
Biology Department

Contact Information:
Work: 508-289-3209
Redfield Bldg

Mailing Address:
266 Woods Hole Road, MS #32
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Woods Hole, MA 02543

Research Interests

My research program has the overall theme of protistan molecular ecology, but I am particularly interested in four topics:

  1. the diversity of protists (algae and protozoa), their detection, and abundances in the marine environment,
  2. the adaptation of microbial life to polar marine environments,
  3. symbiotic and parasitic interactions, and
  4. the alternative nutritional strategies of mixotrophy and kleptoplasty.

Selected Publications

1996    Gast, R.J. and D.A. Caron. Molecular phylogeny of symbiotic dinoflagellates from planktonic foraminifera and radiolaria. Mol. Biol. Evol. 13(9):1192-1197.

2004    Gast, R.J., M.R. Dennett and D.A. Caron. Characterization of Protistan Assemblages in the Ross Sea, Antarctica by Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis. Applied Environmental Microbiology 70:2028-2037.

2007    Gast, R.J., D.M. Moran, M.R. Dennett and D.A. Caron. Kleptoplasty in an Antarctic dinoflagellate; caught in evolutionary transition? Environmental Microbiology 9(1):39-45.

2008    Gast R.J., Moran D.M., Audemard C., Lyons M.M., Defaveri J., Reece K.S., Leavitt D. and R. Smolowitz. Environmental distribution and persistence of Quahog Parasite Unknown (QPX). Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 81(3):219-229.

2008    Bogomolni A., Gast R.J., Ellis J., Dennett M., Pugliares K. and M. Moore. Vectors or Victims? Marine vertebrate zoonoses from coastal waters of the Northwest Atlantic. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 81(1):13-38.

2009    Rose J.M., Gast R.J., Bogomolni A., Ellis J., Lentell B., Touhey K. and M. Moore.   Occurrence and patterns of antibiotic resistance in vertebrates off the Northeastern United States coast. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 67:421–431.

2012    Sanders, R.W. and R.J. Gast. Bacterivory by phototrophic picoplankton and nanoplankton in Arctic waters. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 82(2):242-253.

2014    Gast, R.J., Z. McKie-Krisberg, S.A. Fay, J.M. Rose, and R.W. Sanders. Antarctic mixotrophic protist abundances by microscopy and molecular methods. FEMS Microbiology Ecology DOI: 10.1111/1574-6941.12334

2015    Gast, R.J., S. Elgar and B. Raubenheimer. Observations of transport of bacterial-like microspheres through beach sand. Continental Shelf Research 97(1):1-6.


  • Theodore L. Jahn Award for Best Graduate Student Presentation (1992 - Society of Protozoologists)
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Postdoctoral Scholar (1994-1997)
  • WHOI Coastal Ocean Institute Fellow 2006-2009
  • Provost’s Distinguished Scholar, University of Texas at Austin (2008)
  • Seward Johnson Chair (Education Coordinator, 2013-2018)


  • Dr. Mathew First
  • Dr. Julie Rose
  • Dr. Roxanne Beinart
  • Dr. Andrea Bogomolni
  • Dr. Nicole Millette


  • Elizabeth Halliday (graduated 2012)
  • Megan May (graduated 2018)


Ph.D.: Molecular Genetics. 1994. The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

B.S.: Microbiology. 1987. The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.