Virginia (Ginger) Armbrust is the Richard H. Fleming Endowed Professor of Oceanography at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on the molecular ecology and physiology of marine phytoplankton as these microscopic organisms are responsible for about half the organic matter and oxygen generated on Earth each year. She studies the interactions between phytoplankton and other microbes and with their environment. Her lab combines laboratory experiments with field studies to understand how different forces shape the diversity and productivity of marine microbial communities in current and future oceans. Her work incorporates molecular and optical-based approaches with model organisms in the lab and natural communities at sea. Her lab group invented a ship-board instrument that generates fine scale maps of phytoplankton abundance and growth rates and has developed new software tools as needed. She has decades of experience conducting research at sea and in recent years has led several multi-lab research cruises in the North and Equatorial Pacific Ocean.
Armbrust is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS), the American Academy of Microbiology, and is a member of the Washington State Academy of Science. She has received awards from the Botanical Society of American and the Phycological Society for her research on phytoplankton. She served for 8 years as the Director of the School of Oceanography at the University of Washington. She received her BA from Stanford University and her PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Washington, she was a postdoctoral researcher at Washington University where she trained in molecular genetics.