Dr. Gontikaki was appointed as Assistant Researcher at FORTH’s Institute of Petroleum Research in October 2021, following a 3-year independent research fellowship at the Technical University of Crete. EG holds a BSc in Biology (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki) and a MSc in Oceanography (University of Southampton – National Oceanography Centre). She received her PhD on Biological Sciences from the University of Aberdeen (title: “Carbon cycling in continental slope sediments: the role of benthic communities”).
EG is interested in the structure and function of marine microbial communities, and their role in delivering vital ecosystem services and alleviating the adverse effects of anthropogenic pressures on marine ecosystems. In recent years, she has focused on the response of deep-sea microbial communities to contamination with crude oil in subarctic and temperate marine ecosystems, their bioremediation potential and the effect of dispersant application on biodegradation. An important aspect in the study of deep-sea microbes is maintaining in situ pressure during sample retrieval and experimentation. Towards that end, EG has been involved in the development of a high-pressure seawater sampler and incubation unit operating up to 10 MPa (project HEALMED) while this capacity is set to expand to 50MPa in the next years (project X-PRESS). The sources and sinks of macro- and micro-plastics in deep-sea ecosystems, the transport of toxic contaminants and harmful microbes attached on plastic and the potential for plastic polymer degradation by “plastisphere” microbes are further topics of interest. As a member of FORTH-IPR, EG’s interests have expanded on areas related to clean energy transition and circular economy, zero pollution actions and monitoring of the environmental impacts of marine energy installations.