Santoro is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology and the Vice Chair and Faculty Graduate Advisor for the Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Science. She received her B.A. from Dartmouth College in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and her M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University in Environmental Engineering. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, she was a faculty member at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science before joining the faculty at UCSB. She is the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Early Career Fellowship and a Simons Foundation Early Career Investigator Award in Marine Microbial Ecology.
My research focuses on microbes involved in nutrient cycling in the ocean, especially of the element nitrogen. I am interested in cultivating new microbes and discovering novel ways of tracking their activity. This research combines laboratory experiments with field observations, and to date has used genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and stable isotope geochemistry as tools to uncover the activity of microbes in the mesopelagic ocean. A particular focus of the lab is the marine archaea, a largely uncultured group of microbes. Findings from our recent research include the discovery that archaea in the ocean can make the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, and that some marine archaea have exceptionally small genomes.