Nicole Millette homepage

Nicole Millette

Assistant Professor

Email: [[v|nmillette]]
Phone: (804) 684-7985
Office: Andrews Hall 329
Section: Coastal & Ocean Processes
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.

Active Projects
  1. Collaborative Research: Mixotrophic Grazing as a Strategy to meet Nutritional Requirements in the Iron and Manganese Deficient Southern Ocean (NSF Office of Polar Programs) February 2023 – February 2026
  2. Investigating the relationship between size and the balance between carbon acquisition modes in mixotrophic protists (NSF Biological Oceanography) March 2023 – February 2026
  3. Synergistic effects of hypoxia and warming on zooplankton prey for higher trophic levels in coastal waters (NOAA Coastal Hypoxia Program) September 2023 – August 2026
  4. Characterizing and forecasting coastal ecosystem responses to multiple stressors for management applications in south Florida (NOAA NCCOS) September 2023 – September 2027
Prospective Students

I am looking for one graduate student interested in phytoplankton to join my laboratory starting fall 2024. The student will work on a large project, characterizing how the plankton food-web around southern Florida responds to multiple stressors including temperature, salinity, and harmful algae. For the project, the selected student will frequently travel to Miami to participate in research cruises. I am primarily interested in a student pursuing a Ph.D. who already has a M.S. degree or a few years of work experience. Anyone interested in joining my laboratory, please email your CV/resume and a brief description of your research experience and interests. 


Millette NC, Gast RJ, Luo JY, Moeller, Stamieszkin K, Andersen KH, Brownlee EF, Cohen N, Duhamel S, Dutkiewicz S, Glibert PM, Johnson MD, Leles SG, Maloney AE, McManus G, Poulton N, Pinciotta SD, Sanders R, Wilken S. (2023) Mixotrophs and mixotrophy: Future research priorities. Journal of Plankton Research. 45: 576–596.

 Millette NC,
Clayton S, Mulholland MR, Gibala-Smith L, Lane M (2023) The importance of winter dinoflagellate blooms in Chesapeake Bay - a missing link in Bay productivity. Estuaries and Coasts. 46: 986–997.

 Millette NC,
Kelble C, Smith I, Montenero K, Harvey E (2022) Spatial variability of microzooplankton grazing on phytoplankton in coastal southern Florida, USA. PeerJ. 10: e13291. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.13291

 Millette NC,
da Costa MD, Mora JW, Gast RJ (2021) Temporal and spatial variability of phytoplankton and mixotrophs in a temperate estuary. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 677: 17-31.

 Millette NC,
Pierson JJ, North E (2020) Water temperature during winter may control striped bass recruitment during spring by affecting the development time of copepod nauplii. ICES Journal of Marine Science. 77: 300-314.

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, 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, 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.