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Jim Sullivan, Ph.D. - Florida Atlantic University. Boca Raton, FL, US

Jim Sullivan, Ph.D. Jim Sullivan, Ph.D.

Research Professor | Florida Atlantic University


Jim Sullivan is an expert in biological and physical mechanisms controlling the spatial-temporal dynamics of plankton populations.






To The Point: Jim Sullivan, executive director of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute




Jim Sullivan’s research interests range from the biological and physical mechanisms controlling the spatial-temporal dynamics of phytoplankton/zooplankton populations in the coastal oceans, Harmful Algal Bloom (red tide) dynamics, bioluminescence in the ocean, and the development and use of optical and autonomous sampling instrumentation and analytical techniques needed to study these complex processes. Equipment he has developed or co-developed includes a moored autonomous vertical profiler, a bathyphotometer, an in situ hyperspectral spectrophotometer and an in situ holographic microscope for 3-D characterization of undisturbed particles in the ocean. Sullivan earned his master’s and doctorate in biological oceanography with specializations in phytoplankton physiology and ecology, as well as bio-optics and biophysics from University of Rhode Island - Graduate School of Oceanography (URI-GSO). Prior to joining Harbor Branch he was research faculty at URI-GSO and a Senior Oceanographer for WET Labs Inc.

Areas of Expertise (4)

Sampling Instrumentation

Harmful Algal Bloom Dynamics

Spatial-temporal Dynamics of Plankton

Bioluminescence in the Ocean

Education (2)

University of Rhode Island - Graduate School of Oceanography: Ph.D.

University of Rhode Island - Graduate School of Oceanography: M.S.

Selected Media Appearances (1)

To the Point 3/24/19 - Dr. Jim Sullivan on environmental concerns

West Palm Beach TV  


Jim Sullivan also said there’s a good chance we’ll have another eruption of algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee this summer. He also said there’s a severe problem with coral reefs being attacked by a disease. He said they’re trying to find what’s causing it and how to treat it.

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Selected Articles (1)

Advances in defining fine- and micro-scale pattern in marine plankton Aquatic Living ResourcesF

Jim Sullivan et al.

2003 Since the June 1995 ICES Symposium on Fisheries and Plankton Acoustics in Aberdeen (MacLennan and Holliday, 1996) the use of acoustics for studying zooplankton has seen important advances. Acoustical monitoring of small-scale zooplankton distributions can now be done at intervals of a fraction of a minute. Resolution at vertical spatial scales of tens of centimeters is now easily achieved with commercially available sensors. Multiple-frequency echo-ranging sensors (TAPS™) have been deployed in an up-looking mode on the bottom, and on moorings looking up, down and horizontally. Real-time telemetry provides data on plankton distributions at ranges up to tens of meters from the sensors for periods of weeks to months. These sensors allow one to estimate total zooplankton biomass and the size-abundance spectrum of the animals in the water column at different depths and times. When a profiling CTD and multi-spectral optical sensors were used to define the physical environment and phytoplankton distributions near an acoustical zooplankton profiler, bold relationships were observed between measured spatial and temporal patterns. New methods in zooplankton acoustics are illustrated with data collected from these sensors while monitoring thin, sub-meter thick layers of plankton and diel migrations of benthopelagic crustaceans.

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