• Assistant Professor
Sarah Hu


Visit my website to learn more and come work with us.

I am a microbial ecologist, biological oceanographer, and data scientist. I am interested in understanding how microorganisms fuel and facilitate the ecological processes that sustain our planet. The marine microbial food web consists of a tangle of complex interactions and I am particularly fascinated by the ecological contributions of unicellular eukaryotes (or protists). Protistan community structure (diversity and composition of species) and their nutritional strategies are reflections of their environment. My group uses a variety of molecular approaches, computational biology, laboratory incubations, and microscopy to understand the innerworkings of the marine microbial eukaryome - from coastal environments, deep-sea hydrothermal vent habitats, or along biogeochemical transition zones in the water column.

Professional Links

Educational Background

  • Postdoc Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution 2018-2022
  • Ph.D. Marine Environmental Biology, University of Southern California, 2018
  • B.S. Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, 2011

Awards & Honors

  • 2018-2020 Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2018 Katrina J. Edwards Memorial Dissertation Award

Selected Publications

    • Hu S. K., Anderson R.E., Pachiadaki M.G., Edgcomb V.P., Serres M.H., Sylva S.P., et al. Microbial eukaryotic predation pressure and biomass at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. ISME J 2024; 18.
    • Gleich S.J., Hu S.K., Krinos A.I., Caron D.A. Protistan community composition and metabolism in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre: Influences of mesoscale eddies and depth. Environ Microbiol 2024; 26: e16556.
    • Beckett SJ, Demory D, Coenen AR, Casey JR, Dugenne M, Follett CL, Connell P, Carlson MCG, Hu S.K., et al. Disentangling top-down drivers of mortality underlying diel population dynamics of Prochlorococcus in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Nat Commun 2024; 15: 2105.
    • Ollison, G. A., Hu, S. K., Hopper, J. V., Stewart, B. P., Beatty, J. L., & Caron, D. A. (2023). Physiology governing diatom vs. dinoflagellate bloom and decline in coastal Santa Monica Bay. Frontiers in Microbiology, 14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2023.1287326
    • Alexander, H., Hu, S. K., Krinos, A. I., Pachiadaki, M., Tully, B. J., Neely, C. J., & Reiter, T. (2023). Eukaryotic genomes from a global metagenomic data set illuminate trophic modes and biogeography of ocean plankton. mBio, e0167623. DOI: 10.1128/mbio.01676-23
    • Hu, S. K., Smith, A. , Anderson, R., Sylva, S., Setzer, M., Steadmon, M., Frank, K., Chan, E., Lim, D., German , C., Breier, J. A., Lang, S. Q., Butterfield, D., Fortunato, C. S., Seewald, J., & Huber, J. A. (2022). Globally-distributed microbial eukaryotes exhibit endemism at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Molecular Ecology. 32(23). DOI: 10.1111/mec.16745
    • Hammond, S.W., Lodolo, L., Hu, S.K., & Pasulka, A.L. (2022) Methodological ‘lenses’ influence the characterization of phytoplankton dynamics in a coastal upwelling ecosystem. Environmental Microbiology Reports.
    • Cohen, N.R., Alexander, H., Krinos, A.I., Hu, S.K., and Lampe, R.H. (2022) Marine Microeukaryote Metatranscriptomics: Sample Processing and Bioinformatic Workflow Recommendations for Ecological Applications. Front Mar Sci 9: 867007.
    • Ollison, G.A., Hu, S.K., Hopper, J.V., Stewart, B.P., Smith, J., Beatty, J.L., et al. (2022) Daily dynamics of contrasting spring algal blooms in Santa Monica Bay (central Southern California Bight). Environmental Microbiology 1462-2920.16137.
    • Hu, S.K., Herrera, E., Smith, A., Pachiadaki, M.G., Edgcomb, V.P., Sylva, S.P., Chan E.W., Seewald, J.S., German, C.R., & Huber, J.A. (2021) Protistan grazing impacts microbial communities and carbon cycling at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 118(29). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2102674118
    • Ollison G., Hu, S.K., Mesrop, L.Y., Delong, E. & Caron, D. A. (2021) Come Rain or Shine: Depth Not Season Shapes the Protistan Community at Station ALOHA in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Deep-Sea Res I. 120, 103494. DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr.2021.103494
    • Krinos, A., Hu, S.K., Cohen, N.R. & Alexander, H. (2021) EUKulele: Taxonomic annotation of the unsung eukaryotic microbes. J Open Source Softw 6(57), 2817.DOI: 10.21105/joss.02817
    • Coenen, A.R., Hu, S.K., Luo, E., Muratore, D., and Weitz, J.S. (2020) A Primer for Microbiome Time-Series Analysis. Front Genet 11(310). DOI: 10.3389/fgene.2020.00310
    • Pasulka, A., Hu, S.K., Countway, P.D., Coyne, K.J., Cary, S.C., Heidelberg, K.B., & Caron, D.A. (2019) SSU rRNA Gene Sequencing Survey of Benthic Microbial Eukaryotes from Guaymas Basin Hydrothermal Vent. J Eukaryot Microbiol 66(4):637-653. DOI: 10.1111/jeu.12711
    • Caron, D.A. & Hu, S.K. (2019) Are We Overestimating Protistan Diversity in Nature? Trends in Microbiology 27(3): 197–205. DOI: 10.1016/j.tim.2018.10.009
    • Hu, S.K., Liu, Z., Alexander, H., Campbell, V., Connell, P.E., Dyhrman, S.T., et al. (2018) Shifting metabolic priorities among key protistan taxa within and below the euphotic zone. Environ Microbiol 20: 2865–2879.
    • Hu, S.K., Paige E. Connell, Mesrop, L.Y., & Caron, D.A. (2018) A Hard Day’s Night: Diel Shifts in Microbial Eukaryotic Activity in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Front Mar Sci 5(251). DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00351