Dr Thomalla’s main research focus was on understanding the biological carbon pump through measurements of primary production (14C and 15N) and carbon export (234Th/238U disequilibrium) and interpreting these data in terms of their physical and biogeochemical control mechanisms. During her studies she participated in a number of national and international research programmes that include the Marion Island Oceanographic Survey (MIOS), the Atlantic Meridional Transect (AMT), The Crozet Natural Iron Bloom and Export Experiment (CROZEX), the Porcupine Abyssal Plain (PAP) Observatory, the IPY Bonus-Goodhope (BGH) and several South African National Antarctic Expeditions (SANAE).
On starting her post doc in 2008 at the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observatory (SOCCO) within the CSIR her research focussed shifted to characterising the seasonal cycle of chlorophyll in the Southern Ocean in order to provide a more dynamic understanding of ocean productivity based on underlying physical drivers rather than climatological biomass. In July 2011, she accepted a permanent position at the CSIR as a senior researcher. Her current and future research focuses on the development and application of ecosystem-appropriate, well-characterised products that will translate ocean colour into carbon biogeochemistry and allow new insight into Southern Ocean ecosystem function. A key focus will be in assessing event, seasonal and inter-annual variability in ecosystem physical drivers and their biogeochemical response in order to better understand the potential for carbon sequestration at a regional scale.