Susanne received her doctoral degree from Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany, investigating phytoplankton and what their pigments can tell about climate and state of the ecosystem in Lake Baikal, Siberia. Afterwards, in the UK, she got involved in polar ecosystem research studying biogeochemical alterations as survival strategy in sea ice microorganisms. In Spain, she combined the fields of biogeochemistry and polar ocean research into the use of molecular adaptation of aquatic microorganisms to understand causes and consequences of climate changes. Susanne joined Stellenbosch University as Senior Lecturer in 2013.
The group currently has an interesting project going on linked to the study of biogeochemical cycles in the Southern Ocean. Marine phytoplankton has been nominated as primary potential tool for climate mitigation. However, phytoplankton, which translates into carbon fixation and thus atmospheric CO2 reduction, depends on the availability of light and macro- and trace nutrients for growth and photosynthesis. Hence, research that leads to a better understanding of how phytoplankton responds to changes in light and nutrient availability is crucial. The projects are interdisciplinary including for example genetics and photophysiology, marine biogeo- and analytical chemistry and dust studies.