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Marina Potapova

Marina Potapova, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Biodiversity, Earth & Environmental Science
Curator of Diatoms, Academy of Natural Sciences
Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science
Phone: 215-405-5068

Additional Sites:



  • PhD, Ecology, Russian Academy of Sciences, 1993
  • BS/MS, Botany, University of St. Petersburg, Russia, 1984

Curriculum Vitae:

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Research Interests:

  • Water quality
  • Algae, Protists
  • Diatoms
  • Aquatic Ecology
  • Biological Collections
  • Environmental Pollution


Dr. Potapova is an expert in the ecology and taxonomy of algae, especially diatoms, among the most important producers of organic matter and oxygen on Earth. She spent most of her career at the Academy of Natural Sciences (ANS), which became part of Drexel in 2012. She is a curator of the ANS Diatom Herbarium, the most extensive diatom collection in America.

Diatoms are sensitive environmental indicators. Environmental scientists use diatoms for reconstructing ecosystems’ history and monitor water quality in rivers, lakes, and wetlands. Dr. Potapova uses light and scanning electron microscopy, geometric morphometric shape analysis, molecular methods, and ecological modeling techniques to explore diatom communities of various geographical areas. Her studies seek to understand how environmental change affects their structure and function and to reveal biogeographical patterns. Her current research focuses on developing high-throughput characterization methods of algal assemblages, such as virtual microscopy and DNA metabarcoding.

Dr. Potapova served as the International Society for Diatom Research president and is an editorial board member for the web resources “Diatoms of North America.” and Diatombase.