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About Mya Breitbart

In every milliliter of surface seawater, there are 1 million bacteria and 10 million viruses. Microbes are very diverse, and play important roles in global carbon and nutrient cycling. Dr. Breitbart has spent over a decade studying oceanic viral abundance, diversity, and biogeography. Along the way, she played an integral part in developing the scientific field of viral metagenomics, and her lab continues to expand the application of this technique to new environments and research questions. The Breitbart lab uses molecular techniques to examine the diversity, distribution, and ecological roles of viruses and bacteria in a wide range of environments – including seawater, animals, plants, insects, zooplankton, coral reefs, stromatolites, and reclaimed water.

Notable recent findings include the first discovery of viruses infecting zooplankton (the most numerous animals in the ocean), the first identification of single-stranded DNA viruses in invertebrates, the first multi-year study of viral abundance in the open ocean, the discovery that plant viruses dominate human feces which enabled the development of new indicators of fecal pollution, the identification of viral pathogens potentially involved in marine mammal mortality events, and the creation of new methods for identifying vector-transmitted viruses. Currently funded by an NSF Assembling the Tree of Life grant, the Breitbart lab is now focusing on exploring the diversity and ecology of single-stranded DNA viruses, whose widespread environmental distribution has only recently been recognized.

In September 2013, Dr. Breitbart was selected by Popular Science magazine (October issue), as one of their “Brilliant 10″—an annual feature profiling 10 young scientists who are doing truly groundbreaking work in their fields. To identify those individuals that the scientific community feels are the best, brightest, and most worthy of widespread recognition, Popular Science magazine polls professional organizations and scientists in the field.

Positions

2016 - Present Professor, University of South Florida College of Marine Science
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2012 - 2016 Associate Professor, University of South Florida ‐ College of Marine Science
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2006 - 2012 Assistant Professor, University of South Florida ‐ College of Marine Science
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Grants

2016 - Present Coastal SEES Collaborative Research: Integration of Human Behavior and Perception into a Risk-based Microbial Water Quality Management Approach
National Science Foundation – Coastal SEES
Role: Lead PI
Colleague(s): Valerie Harwood (co-PI)
$999,995
2017 - 2019 Iron-Virus Interactions in the Ocean
National Science Foundation – EAGER
Role: Co-PI
Colleague(s): Kristen Buck (Lead PI)
$299,295
2016 - 2019 Deciphering the Ecology of Aquatic Single-Stranded DNA Phages (Microviridae/Gokushovirinae)
National Science Foundation – Division of Environmental Biology
Role: PI
$463,714
2015 - 2019 Quantifying the Recently Discovered, Ubiquitous ssDNA Phage Group and Identifying their Hosts
U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation
Role: Lead PI
Colleague(s): Debbie Lindell (co-PI)
$180,000
2015 - 2019 Role of phages in structuring bacterial communities: Ciona intestinalis as a model system
National Science Foundation – Integrative Organismal Systems
Role: Co-PI
Colleague(s): Larry Dishaw (Lead PI)
$440,300
2014 - 2019 National Marine Sanctuaries as Sentinel Sites for a Demonstration Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON)
NASA Grant NNX14AP62A, funded under the National Ocean Partnership Program
Role: Co-PI
Colleague(s): Frank Muller-Karger (Lead PI)
$912,314
2016 - 2018 Spawning Habitat and Early-Life Linkages to Fisheries (SHELF)
Florida Institute of Oceanography, FL Centers of Excellence Research Grants Program
Role: Co-PI
Colleague(s): Ernst Peebles (Lead PI)
$799,999
2016 - 2017 ACCESS DNA viruses: A Comprehensive survey of Circular Eukaryotic Single-Stranded DNA viruses in Invertebrates and Fungi
National Science Foundation – Assembling the Tree of Life
Role: PI
$6,000
2015 - 2017 Egg and Larval Barcoding for Gulf DEPM Stock Assessments
Florida Institute of Oceanography: Florida Centers of Excellence Research Grants Program
Role: Co-PI
Colleague(s): Ernst Peebles (Lead PI)
$129,265
2012 - 2017 REU Supplement Request to Collaborative Research: AToL: ACCESS DNA viruses: A Comprehensive survey of Circular Eukaryotic Single-Stranded DNA viruses in Invertebrates and Fungi
National Science Foundation – Assembling the Tree of Life
Role: Lead PI
Colleague(s): Karyna Rosario (co-PI)
$995,371
2010 - 2013 Collaborative Research: Vector-enabled discovery: Exploiting whiteflies to investigate the diversity, evolution, and biogeography of begomoviruses
National Science Foundation – Systematic Biology and Biodiversity Inventories
Role: PI
$322,502
2011 - 2012 Exploring the diversity and ecology of marine single-stranded DNA phages
University of South Florida Internal Awards Program – Proposal Enhancement Grant
$24,913
2010 - 2012 Development of a Serological Assay for the Detection of Sea Lion Anellovirus (ZcAV)
University of South Florida – College of Marine Science Interdisciplinary Research Grant Program
Role: Co-PI
Colleague(s): Larry Dishaw (Lead PI)
$50,000
2010 - 2012 Discovery of Viruses Infecting Marine Copepoda
National Science Foundation – EAGER
Role: PI
$298,528
2009 - 2012 Collaborative Research: PHANTOME: PHage ANnotation TOols and MEthods
National Science Foundation – Advances in Bioinformatics
$460,142
2009 - 2010 Spatial Variability in Coral-Associated Bacteria: Implications for Coral Restoration
Mote Marine Laboratory – Protect Our Reefs Grant
Role: PI
$30,827
2007 - 2010 Abundance, Dynamics, and Diversity of Viruses in the Northwestern Sargasso Sea
National Science Foundation – Microbial Interactions and Processes
Role: PI
$474,929
2007 - 2010 Development of Proteogenomic Approaches to Analyze the Role of Virus-Microbe Interactions in Shaping Natural Microbial Communities
Department of Energy – Genomes to Life
Role: Lead PI
Colleague(s): Jillian Banfield (co-PI) and Nathan Verberkmoes (co-PI)
$1,703,000
2008 - 2009 Recipient
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship
$45,000
2008 - 2009 Shotgun Sequencing of Viruses Associated with Sea Turtle Fibropapillomatosis
Florida Sea Turtle Grants Program
Role: PI
$29,867
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Professional Service and Affiliations

2017 - Present Editorial Board Member, PeerJ
2016 - Present Advisory Board Member, USF Center for Infectious Disease Ecology Research (CIDER)
2014 - Present Scientific Advisory Board Member, American Society for Microbiology
2014 - Present Curator, Aquatic Viruses Scoop.It Page
2014 - Present Chair, Circoviridae Subgroup of the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses
2014 - Present Member, ICTV Bacterial & Archaeal Virus Taxonomy Consultative Group
2017 - 2020 Ambassador, International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME) International Board of Ambassadors
2017 - 2020 Member, University of South Florida Honors and Awards Council
2015 - 2019 Scientific Advisory Board Member, International Society of Viruses of Microbes
2015 - 2018 Editor, Aquatic Microbial Ecology
2015 - 2017 Research Advisory Committee Member, University of South Florida
2017 Officer Nominating Committee Member, American Society for Microbiology
2015 - 2016 Chair of Division M (Bacteriophage), American Society for Microbiology
2014 - 2016 Editorial Board Member, Scientific Reports
2016 Pedagogy All-Day Workshop Attendee, USF Academy for Teaching and Learning Excellence (ATLE)
2015 Session Chair, American Society for Microbiology General Meeting
2015 Session Chair, Gordon Conference on Animal-Microbe Symbiosis
2015 Graduate Research Fellowship Program Panel Member, National Science Foundation
2014 Chair-Elect, Division M (Bacteriophage) of the American Society for Microbiology
2014 Selection Committee Member, Renate E. Bernstein Outstanding Publication Award
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Honors and Awards

  • University of South Florida Outstanding Faculty Award, 2018
  • AAAS Fellow, 2017
  • Girls Incorporated of Pinellas STEM Woman of the Year, 2015
  • Florida Trend Magazine’s All Star, 2014
  • University of South Florida Outstanding Faculty Award, 2014
  • Popular Science Magazine’s “Brilliant Ten” Young Investigators, 2013
  • Honorable Mention, University of South Florida’s Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award, 2013
  • Kavli Frontiers Fellow. National Academy of Sciences, 2009 and 2010
  • “Each One Teach One” Phenomenal Woman Award, University of South Florida Saint Petersburg, 2009
  • Outstanding Research Achievement Award, University of South Florida, 2008
  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, 2007
  • Genome Technology Magazine’s Young Investigator Award, 2006
  • Achievement Rewards for College Scientists, 2005-2006

Courses

  • Metagenomic Bioinformatics
  • Biological Oceanography
  • Marine Molecular Microbiology Laboratory
  • Surviving Academia
  • Foundations of Biological and Fisheries Oceanography
  • Professional Development
  • Micro-Macro Interactions
  • Molecular Microbiology Methods
  • Professional Development I
  • Microbes and Metals
  • Professional Development II
  • Virology

Education

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2006 PhD, University of California San Diego ‐ Cell and Molecular Biology
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2000 BS, Florida Institute of Technology ‐ Biology
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Contact Information

Office Phone: 727.553.3520

Email:


Book Chapters (3)

Articles (122)