David Talmy grew up in London, England. He was trained in mathematics as an undergraduate at the University of Sussex. As a graduate, he transitioned into environmental research through a master’s program at the University of York specifically tailored to train mathematicians in ecological research. His doctoral training was primarily at Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the U.K., which houses one of the foremost European marine ecosystem modeling groups. His doctoral degree was awarded by the University of Essex, and his doctoral research focused on modeling light and nutrient acclimation of marine phytoplankton. He spent his postdoctoral years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developing models to explain how the elemental composition of organic material is set by the coupling of autotrophs and heterotrophs in the surface ocean. Talmy leads a research group at the University of Tennessee that explores how cellular trade-offs between resource acquisition and defense against environmental stress and predation shape microbial ecosystems. Their research is highly collaborative, forging connections between quantitative modeling and field and laboratory experimentation. A hallmark of their approach is direct and iterative testing of mechanistic models with laboratory and in situ measurements.