Riss Kell, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Scientist

Riss’ love of science and curiosity for the ocean was fostered through growing up in the Woods Hole area of Cape Cod, home to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and a thriving ocean science community. As a high school student, Riss first entered the marine science world by volunteering in the Saito lab at WHOI during summer breaks. After completing their BS in Biology at Boston College, they returned to the Saito lab in 2017 to pursue a Ph.D. in Chemical Oceanography. After graduating in May 2022, Riss gained experience in the biotech space and honed their microbiology skills as an Associate Scientist at a small biotech working on the expression of recombinant antibodies with therapeutic applications in the context of human diseases. Wanting to combine their interests in both human health and marine sciences, Riss joined GMGI as a postdoctoral scientist as part of the biomedical team. Outside of the lab, Riss enjoys biking, kayaking, swimming and geocaching.


2016 – BS Biology, Boston College
2022 – PhD Chemical Oceanography, MIT/WHOI

Research Interests

As a biogeochemist, Riss is interested in the multi-disciplinary exploration of the links between biological, chemical, and geological processes in the world’s oceans and the molecular interactions that occur among them. They explored one facet of this—the links between oceanic phytoplankton and trace metal nutrients— over the course of their PhD work, focusing on the essential trace metal nutrient zinc (Zn) and it’s metabolic demand by marine photoautotrophs, which contribute significantly to global primary production and carbon cycling. During their PhD, Riss honed their proteomics skills by detecting and characterizing two novel Zn-related proteins in four species in marine diatoms—these “ZCRPs” (Zn/Co Responsive Proteins) were deployed as biomarkers to diagnose oceanic regions of Zn stress. Their time in industry allowed them to realize a desire to pursue scientific endeavors with the goal of improving human health. Believing that the ocean holds great untapped potential that could be applied to this goal, Riss’ current research interests at GMGI center on developing sea urchins as marine model organisms for human health due to their natural longevity and cancer resistance.

Research Profile Links

‪Riss Morgan Kell – ‪Google Scholar

Research Projects


Kellogg R.M, Schanke, N.L., Lees L.E., Chmiel R.J., Rao, D., Brisbin M.M., Moran D.M, McIlvin M.R, Bolinesi F., Mangoni O., Casotti R., Balestra C., Horner T.J., Subhas A.V., Dunbar R.B, Allen A.E., DiTullio G.R., and Saito M.A (submitted). Zinc-iron co-limitation of natural marine phytoplankton assemblages in coastal Antarctica.

Johnson M.D., Moeller H.V., Paight C., Kellogg R.M., McIlvin M.R., Saito M.A, and Lasek-Nesselquist E. 2023. Functional control and metabolic integration of stolen organelles in a photosynthetic ciliate. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2023.01.027

Kellogg R.M, Moran D.M, McIlvin M.R, and Saito M.A. (in prep). High metabolic zinc demand within native Amundsen and Ross Sea phytoplankton communities.

Chmiel R.J, Rao D., Kellogg R.M, Moran D.M., DiTullio G.R., and Saito M.A (in prep) Low cobalt inventories in the Amundsen and Ross Seas driven by high demand for labile cobalt uptake among bloom communities.

Kellogg, R.M. Assessing the potential for zinc limitation of marine primary production: proteomic characterization of the low zinc stress response in marine diatoms. 2022. PhD thesis. https://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/144738

Kellogg, R.M., Moran, D.M., McIlvin, M.R., Subhas, A.V., Allen, A.E. and Saito, M.A. 2022. Lack of a Zn/Co substitution ability in the polar diatom Chaetoceros neogracile RS19. Limnology and Oceanography. https://doi.org/10.1002/lno.12201

Kellogg R.M, Moosburner M., Cohen N., McIlvin M., Moran D., Allen A., and Saito M. 2022 Adaptive Responses of Marine Diatoms to Zinc Scarcity and Ecological Implications. Nature Communications. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-29603-y

Held N., Waterbury J.B, Webb E., Kellogg R.M., McIlvin R., Jakuba M., Valoise F.W, Moran D.M, Sutherland K.M, Saito M.A 2022. Dynamic diel proteome and daytime nitrogenase activity supports buoyancy in the cyanobacterium Trichodesmium. Nature Microbiology. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41564-021-01028-1

Walworth G., Saito M., Lee M., McIlvin M., Moran D., Kellogg R.M., Fu F., Hutchins D., Webb E. 2021. Why Environmental Biomarkers Work: Transcriptome-Proteome Correlations and Modeling of Multi-Stressor Experiments in the Marine Bacterium Trichodesmium. Journal of Proteome Research. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jproteome.1c00517

Kellogg R.M., McIlvin M., Vedamati J., Twining B., Moffett J., Marchetti A., Moran D., Saito M. 2020. Efficient zinc/cobalt interreplacement in northeast Pacific diatoms and relationship to high surface dissolved Co:Zn ratios. Limnology and Oceanography. https://doi.org/10.1002/lno.11471