Nicole Millette

Assistant Professor

Email: [[v|nmillette]]
Phone: (804) 684-7985
Office: Andrews Hall 339
Department: Biological Sciences
Interests: Phytoplankton Ecology, Mixotrophy, Predator-Prey Interactions, Water Quality

Curriculum Vitae

You can download a .pdf of my curriculum vitae here.

  • Ph.D., University of Maryland Center of Environmental Science, 2016
  • B.S., University of Rhode Island, 2011
Research Interests

I study the ecology of phytoplankton across a range of marine environments. My primary research interest lies in understanding the phytoplankton interactions within a system. Understanding the interactions between highly diverse components of the phytoplankton community, ranging in size from microns to millimeters, is important to understanding the movement of energy and materials through an ecosystem. The first objective in a system is to identify the key interactions between particular phytoplankton and zooplankton species or groups within the plankton food-web that are transferring the largest amount of energy and materials to higher trophic levels. My next objective is to investigate how changes to the environment will alter these key interactions and the flow of energy. This research will help scientists and environmental managers predict how a system will respond to anthropogenically driven changes, such as increases/decreases in nutrients.

Another research topic my laboratory focuses on is mixotrophy. Mixotrophs are protists that use both autotrophy and heterotrophy to obtain energy and grow, as opposed to strictly employing either autotrophy or heterotrophy. Research on mixotrophy is an integral part of a changing paradigm in phytoplankton ecology, as it is becoming widely acknowledged that most plankton are likely mixotrophic. Of particular interest to me is determining the impact of the in situ mixotrophic assemblage in the environment under variable conditions. Understanding what portion of the plankton population is mixotrophic and how much carbon they are ingesting compared to strict heterotrophs is important because it likely affects the trophic transfer efficiency of nutrients and energy.

Prospective Students

I am looking for graduate students interested in phytoplankton to join my laboratory starting fall 2020. Students will have freedom to develop their own research project on phytoplankton within Chesapeake Bay. Some potential project topics include: 1) formation of phytoplankton blooms, 2) mixotrophic activity of phytoplankton blooms, 3) variability in grazing rates on phytoplankton, and 4) variability in phytoplankton community composition. Anyone interested in joining my laboratory, please email your CV/resume and a brief description of your research experience and interests


Millette NC, Kelble C, Linhoss A, and Ashby S (2019) Using spatial variability in the rate of change of chlorophyll a to improve water quality management in a subtropical oligotrophic estuary. Estuaries and Coasts.

Millette NC, Grosse J, Johnson WM, Jungbluth MJ, Suter EA (2018) Hidden in plain sight: The importance of cryptic interactions in marine plankton. Limnology and Oceanography Letters. 3: 341-356.

Millette NC, Kelble C, Linhoss A, Ashby S, and Visser L (2017) Shift in baseline chlorophyll a concentrations following a three-year Synechococcus bloom in southeastern Florida. Bulletin of Marine Science. 94: 3-19.

Kelly PT, Bell T, Reisinger AJ, Spandbauer, TL, Bortolotti LE, Brentrup JA,…Millette NC et al. (2017) Ecological Dissertations in Aquatic Science (Eco-DAS): An excellent networking opportunity for early career aquatic scientists. Limnol. Oceanogr. Bulletin. 26: 25-30.

Millette NC, Aceves A, Pierson JJ, Stoecker DK (2017) Mixotrophy in Heterocapsa rotundata: a mechanism for dominating the winter phytoplankton community. Limnology and Oceanography. 62: 836-845.

Millette NC, King G, Pierson JJ (2015) A note on the survival and feeding of copepod nauplli (Eurytemora carolleeae) on the dinoflagellate Heterocapsa rotundata. Journal of Plankton Research.

Millette NC, Stoecker DK, Pierson JJ (2015) Top-down control of micro- and mesozooplankton on winter dinoflagellate blooms of Heterocapsa rotundata. Aquatic Microbial Ecology. 76:15-25.