About Us

  • BORG @ ODU
  • Dr Richard Zimmerman’s research interests focus on the ecological physiology of marine photosynthesis, the metabolic regulation of carbon and nutrient dynamics in marine ecosystems, radiative transfer in and remote sensing of coastal waters, especially optically shallow environments, ecosystem productivity and numerical modeling. Study sites include seagrass systems on the Bahamas Banks and Florida Bay, giant kelp forests along the California Coast and coastal waters of the Chesapeake Bay region.
  • Dr Victoria Hill's research efforts are focused on the optical characterization of Arctic Waters, including measurement of primary productivity, phytoplankton pigments, absorption and scattering by components in the water column and the impact of CDOM in the Arctic, regional chlorophyll algorithms for use with SeaWiFS and MODIS are under development. Victoria is also involved in local investigations in collaboration with Dr Zimmerman
  • David Ruble is responsible for the deployment and maintenance of our equipment which includes tethered and profiling radiometers and absorption, scattering and fluormeteric instrumentation. Most of the initial processing and archiving of data is carried out by David as well as general lab management. David received his Msc from ODU in 1996.
  • My research aims at understanding the physiological responses of eelgrass Zostera marina L. to increasing anthropogenic perturbation in future climate change. Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and the concomitant warming trends associated with climate change will invoke non-linear ecological responses of seagrasses at a physiological, population and community levels. Seagrasses are carbon-limited at present CO2 concentrations and the increase in CO2 level will enhance the inorganic carbon availability for photosynthesis, promoting growth. Although carbon balance is expected to become positive in a high CO2 environment, the influence on nitrogen balance on eelgrass has not been studied. The assimilation of inorganic nitrogen such as nitrate and ammonia are highly regulated by nutrient abundance and the availability of fixed carbon (in addition to light and temperature). My research will examine the interactive effects of CO2, temperature and nutrient on (1) nitrogen uptake and assimilation pattern, (2) C and N balance, and (3) the mechanisms controlling nitrogen toxicity in Z. marina.
  • Billur is a PhD candidate in Biological Oceanography. Her research goals include deepening her scientific understanding of aquatic photosynthesis especially focusing on impacts of climate change in seagrass ecosystems using mechanistic and predictive approaches. Her motivation for specialization in seagrass physiology stems from their important ecosystem services in coastal environments that provide both ecological and economical benefits which are affected by climate change. Her dissertation aims to understand physiological feedback mechanisms and environmental factors that control carbon concentrating and photoprotective mechanisms in eelgrass. A mechanistic understanding of the balance between photosynthesis, photoprotection and growth under changing environmental conditions will also enable her to model the carbon metabolism that may help to predict whether seagrasses can maintain their successful ecological performance in future climatic conditions.
  • Ariel recently earned a Master of Science Degree in Oceanography from the University of New Hampshire. Her master's research involved studying the tidal effects on metabolic gases (oxygen and pCO2) and optical properties (absorption and attenuation) observed at the Piscataqua Estuary Inlet, which is located at the interface of the Western Gulf of Maine and the Great Bay Estuary. As a first-year PhD student at Old Dominion University, her current research interests are in bio-optics and passive remote sensing. Her research goals are to better understand primary production in coastal ocean zones through the investigation of light attenuation with LiDAR
  • George is a PhD Candidate in Oceanography. His primary areas of interest are in coastal and marine remote sensing and the application of geospatial technology to problems related to coastal geomorphology, climate change and sea-level rise hazards, and coastal land use policy. George is currently employed full-time as the GIS Manager at Old Dominion University and part-time as the GIS Program Coordinator at Tidewater Community College.
  • Carmen is a PhD student in Biological Oceanography. She has worked with ecology in mangrove forests and seagrass beds in Puerto Rico. Her master’s thesis focused on studying landscape ecology techniques to determine patterns that influence the natural processes in marine ecosystems using field and IKONOS satellite remote sensing data. Her research goals are to continue research on tropical seagrass beds and mix physiology, ocean optics, remote sensing and GIS

The Bio-optical Research Group in the Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department at Old Dominion University is involved in investigations in both local waters and further a field.

Bio-optical oceanography is a sub-discipline of oceanography that concerns itself with the physics of light (optics) and its interaction with biological and biogeochemical processes in the ocean. We are interested in the optical properties (absorption, scattering and reflectance) of natural waters and what this can tell us about biological processes both within the water column and on the benthos.

Our current projects involve the remote sensing of seagrass beds, experimentation to determine the effects of high carbon dioxide on seagrass growth, developing models to predict seagrass growth based on light availability and monitoring absorption of solar energy into Arctic surface waters.


Contact Dr Zimmerman

Contact Dr Hill; My researchgate page is here; My personal page is here.

Find out more about the Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Learn more about Old Dominion University


Alumni and Interns

Meredith graduated with her masters degree in the spring of 2013. The focus of her studies was the influence of CO2 permeability, controlled by biochemical, physical, and physiological mechanisms on photosynthesis and δ13C composition of Chesapeake Bay Zostera marina. 


Miranda is a recent high school graduate from Ocean Lakes High School. In 2012 she completed a research project with BORG on the effects of climate change on Zostera marina. She focused on the effect CO2 had on reducing the deterioration of Zostera marina at higher temperatures. She is currently working as an intern to help with the project in the aquarium. Next fall Miranda will be a freshman at Old Dominion University.

Tiffany is an academy student from Ocean Lakes High school. She worked with the BORG for her academy senior research project during the summer of 2013. Her research focuses on understanding how different pH levels affect the photosynthesis rates of Zostera marina.