Dr LJ Stal (b. 1952) has been named professor by special appointment in Marine Microbiology in the Faculty of Science at the Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA). The chair has been created through the AUV Fund and it is the first in Marine Microbiology in the Netherlands.
Lucas Stal conducts research on the functional diversity and ecology of marine cyanobacteria and other microalgae. These organisms occur in huge numbers in the sea (from 100,000 to up to more than one million per millilitre), and are responsible for half of the world's primary production and fixation of carbon-dioxide (CO2) and atmospheric nitrogen (N2). They thereby form the basis of the food web in the sea. These photosynthetic micro-organisms play a crucial role in the regulation of the climate, and have done so in the past. Cyanobacteria have existed for 3.5 billion years, as is witnessed by their traces in the fossil record. These organisms were responsible for the enrichment of the Earth's atmosphere with oxygen. During this long period of time cyanobacteria have developed a large diversity. Stal's research concentrates on the role that this diversity plays in the functioning of marine ecosystems in the past, present, and future, with particular emphasis on the information which is contained in the (meta)genome and (meta)proteome (all the proteins in an organism) of micro-organisms. Stal will direct research and teaching in the field of marine microbiology at the Instituut voor Biodiversiteit en Ecosysteem Dynamica (IBED) at the UvA. Marine microbiology will be an important aspect of the Dutch Master's in Marine Biology which will be established in the near future.
Stal is a microbiologist and head of the Department of Marine Microbiology at the Centrum voor Estuariene en Mariene Ecologie at the Nederlands Instituut voor Ecologie. In 2002 he was a visiting professor in the Department of Microbiology of the Universidad Miguel Hernandez in Spain. Between 1988 and 1996 he worked as an associate professor at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. Earlier he worked at the Carl-von-Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg (Germany). He is chairman of the Dutch SCOR (Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research) and of the Microbial Ecology section of the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Microbiologie. He is also member of the editorial boards of various scholarly journals.