As a systems microbial ecologist, Dr. Fritsen studies the transfer of energy and cycling of materials within ecosystems that are mediated by bacteria, algae and protists. His work focuses on how the microbes and their interactions are influenced by the time-varying physical features of their environment. One long-standing area of interest has been on the interaction between seasonal ice dynamics and microbial production in polar ice environments. Such studies provide insights into microbial adaptations, microbial interactions within complex systems, and the possibility of life supporting habitats beyond earth. This professional interest also leads to studies of the interactions between a society's use of nutrients that influences microalgal seasonal production cycles and community structure which, in turn, affect the beneficial uses of aquatic ecosystems.
Having these interests mandates that the majority of Dr. Fritsen's time involves planning, conducting and reporting on field work and laboratory-based studies. Teaching and advising in both undergraduate and graduate programs at the University of Nevada Reno in addition to public outreach seminars and school visitations also allows ample opportunity for obtaining fresh perspectives through the interactions with the next generation of scientists and stewards of our environment.