EU network of mesocosms facilities for research on marine and freshwater ecosystems open for global collaboration.

The User Selection Panel (USP)

The User Selection Panel (USP) is formed of independent international experts that will be responsible for selecting beneficiaries of Transnational Access to the AQUACOSM-plus platforms. The USP will elect its own chair and act independently of the AQUACOSM-plus project management. Nevertheless, to limit the administrative burden on the USP, its members will be supported in the TA-application selection process as described under WP9, and in particular by a web-based application portal that will be further enhanced under AQUACOSM-plus (WP5). If requested by the USP, the SC can assist as needed (see WP9).

The seven members were selected based on extensive competencies in the field of mesocosm sciences, in particular from research on impact of climate change, pollution and other disturbance on ecosystems covering biogeographic knowledge of relevance for AQUACOSM-plus facilities (from Mediterranean to Arctic).

The responsibilities of the User Selection Panel will be to:

  • Select users for Transnational Access based on the selection criteria listed in WP9;
  • Give recommendations for new actions and activities.
  1. Cèlia Marrasé (leader of the USP) is a plankton ecologist at the Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC) of Barcelona, SPAIN. She is interested in understanding how physical and biological variables influence the nutrient fluxes in marine systems. In particular she has studied the effects of small-scale turbulence on nutrient uptake by microorganisms, stoichiometry of organic matter and plankton interactions. Recently, she focusses on chemical-biological interactions, in particular, she studies the dynamics of dissolved organic matter in relation to functional and specific diversity of prokaryotes and in the context of future scenarios of eutrophication and acidification. She combines fieldwork with meso- and microcosms experiments to achieve her objectives. Since July 2019 she is vice director of the Institut of Ciències del Mar.
  2. Elena Litchman is an aquatic ecologist and Professor at Kellogg Biological Station of Michigan State University in Michigan, USA. She has published extensively on phytoplankton community ecology, physiology and evolution, including climate change, harmful algal blooms and the importance of nutrient balances. Her research combines experiments at various scales, field observations, meta-analyses and mathematical models to understand how biotic and abiotic factors structure plankton communities and how they may re-organize under changing environmental conditions in the future. In addition to her research and teaching, she participates in various national (USA) and international panels and boards and is a widely sought-after member of working groups and speaker at conferences.
  3. Eugènia Martí is a permanent staff researcher of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) at the Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes (CEAB). Her research expertise is on the ecology and biogeochemistry of fluvial ecosystems mostly from arid and Mediterranean regions. She has focused on assessing stream nutrient dynamics and associated biogeochemical processes at different temporal and spatial scales, and examining their controlling factors and driving mechanisms in both pristine and human-altered streams. She is a co-leader of the Urban River Lab, an open-air experimental facility consisting on 18 flumes fed with water from wastewater treatment plant effluents ( to understand mechanisms of nutrient and emergent pollutant removal in streams draining urban landscapes.  She has been the PI of continuous funding from national and international projects grants for more than 20 years.
  4. Alo Laas is a senior researcher at the Chair of Hydrology and Fishery, Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences of Estonian University of Life Sciences (EMU). He is a limnologist/aquatic ecologist and he defended his PhD in applied hydrobiology at EMU in 2012. His research interests are connected with carbon cycling, lake metabolism, climate change and with high frequency studies in water bodies. Additionally to his research and scientific teaching, he is an active member of GLEON (, SIL and ASLO communities and has lead several international and national projects as PI, project-or workpackage leader.
  5. Sunčica Bosak is an Assistant Professor at Biological department, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Croatia where she is involved in the teaching of microbial ecology and marine microbiology. She studies marine phytoplankton ecology and taxonomy, especially in the oligotrophic ecosystems of the Mediterranean Sea, and has experience in conventional mesocosm experiments. Recently, she focusses on benthic diatom taxonomy, marine biofilms and diatom-bacteria interactions in the marine phytobenthos, especially the ones associated with the epizoic habitats.
  6. Roger Harris is Professor Emeritus and Fellow at the Plymouth Marine Lab, UK, is a leading scientist in marine biology and plankton ecosystem studies, with a wide experience in marine and freshwater ecology, biodiversity, biogeochemistry, and ecological monitoring and environment in general. His studies also include using mesocosms in international consortia. He is former Chief Editor of J. Plankton Res., and has been the PI of numerous national and international projects.
  7. Benni W Hansen is Professor at Roskilde University, Denmark. He has broad experience in aquatic sciences ranging from ecology and ecosystem studies from primary producers to fish and molluscs, including transformation of energy and organic matter, grazing, growth and bioenergetics, population dynamics, organism behaviour and fluid mechanics. He also obtained experience in more applied approaches, such as aquaculture, specifically using mesocosms in addition to laboratory and field studies. His expertise with development of molecular biological tools is also expected to be of particular importance for the USP as a whole.