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Personal profile


I developed an early interest in algae and ecophysiology whilst studying for my BSc in Botany at the University of Liverpool and subsequently stayed on there to do a PhD on a non-heterocystous cyanobacterium that fixes nitrogen aerobically.  I then moved to Bristol University for a 2-year UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Postdoctoral Fellowship focussing on chemotaxis in cyanobacteria, before moving to the University of East Anglia (UEA) for 8 months to work on biogenic production of dimethylsulphide (DMS).  After this I worked at Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, USA on high-affinity arabinose uptake in E. coli; a project that I undertook to learn more biochemical and molecular techniques.

I returned to UEA and DMS-related research in March 1987 and over the following 10 years I developed a portfolio of research projects on production of DMS, halocarbons and hydrocarbons, and air-sea gas exchange.  Most of these involved phytoplankton and seaweed physiology and marine microbial ecology.  In 1998 I won a 5-year NERC Advanced Fellowship to work on the biogenic production of trace gases of atmospheric significance in marine waters.  In 2004 I was awarded a rare second 5-year NERC Advanced Research Fellowship to develop physiological and molecular approaches to biogenic trace gas production.  During these Fellowships I established a research group and the Marine Trace Gas Biology Laboratory in the School of Environmental Sciences (ENV).  Since my appointment to a Readership in Biological Oceanography in 2009, I have continued research in these areas alongside my teaching and administration.

From 2002-2009 I was Chair of the ENV Researchers' Affairs Forum and represented Research Staff on the ENV Executive Group, the UEA Research Staff Working Group and UEA Research Staff Training Steering Committee.  After joining the ENV faculty I was the ENV Health and Safety Co-Ordinator and Chair of the ENV Health and Safety Committee for 4 years (2009-2013).  I am currently involved in action on gender equality and fairness through Chairing ResNet (www.uea.ac.uk/resnet) a contact, support and information network for people working in research, teaching and support roles at the University of East Anglia and the Norwich Biosciences Institutes.  I am also a member of the UEA Athena Swan Central Steering Group and the ENV Equality and Diversity Committee.  Beyond UEA I am President Elect for the British Phycological Society and a member of the Phycological Society of America Grants and Awards Committee.  My interests in the sustainable production and exploitation of seaweeds and microalgae are reflected in chairing the British Phycological Society Algal Applications Committee and being an active participant in the NERC and Technology Strategy Board Algal Bioenergy Special Interest Group.



  • 2009 - present: Reader in Biological Oceanography, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia.
  • 1998 - 2009: Two consecutive 5-year UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Advanced Research Fellowships, University of East Anglia.
  • 1987 - 1998: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of East Anglia.
  • 1986 - 1987: Research Fellow, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, USA.
  • 1985 - 1986: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of East Anglia.
  • 1983 - 1985: NERC Research Fellow, University of Bristol.
  • 1979 - 1983: PhD University of Liverpool.
  • 1976 - 1979: BSc (Hons) Botany, University of Liverpool.

PhD Positions

Click here for current PhD opportunities in the School of Environmental Sciences. However, feel free to email me to discuss projects outside these areas and alternative sources of funding.

Key Research Interests and Expertise

My research centres on biological oceanography, especially the pivotal roles that marine microbes play in the biogeochemical cycles that are essential for the functioning of the whole Earth system.  I am interested in how marine organisms, especially plankton and seaweeds, interact, adapt to and influence their environment, as well as how this could alter with climate change.

The biogenic production of the sulphur trace gas dimethyl sulphide (DMS), volatile halocarbons and non-methane hydrocarbons are of particular interest.  In addition my group works on the DMS precursor dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP), and we have also investigated related compounds including dimethylsulphoxide (DMSO), acrylic acid and inorganic iodine species.  The research involves laboratory experiments on samples collected in the natural environment and cultures of marine microorganisms (phytoplankton, microzooplankton, seaweeds, bacteria and viruses), and fieldwork onboard research ships, on rocky shores, at land-based coastal fieldwork sites and mesocosm facilities.  Overall our research has made a significant contribution to improving understanding of the physiology, biochemistry and ecology of the production of trace gases and related compounds.

These interests have also led me to research on other aspects of biological oceanography, biogeochemistry and the exploitation of algal biomass.  Recent projects have included: oxidative stress in Emiliania huxleyi; phytoplankton cell death processes; ocean acidification; using flow cytometry to assess the size structure of North Sea phytoplankton populations; the variability in DMSP production between and within phytoplankton functional types (coccolithophores, dinoflagellates and diatoms); nutrient and sulphur deficiency and DMSP production in Emiliania huxleyi and Thalassiosira pseudonana; the production of trace gases by temperate and tropical seaweeds; diatom, coccolithophore and nanophytoplankton growth rates and carbon cycle modelling; the sustainable exploitation of algae for biofuels and other high-value products.

MSc, PhD & Postdoctoral Research Opportunities to date I have supervised 23 PhD students and 1 MSc student (11 as primary supervisor).  I welcome enquiries from potential students and postdocs at any time.

Publications: EPrints Digital Repository

Key Responsibilities

  • University of East Anglia Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee since November 2020
  • Chair of ResNet (www.uea.ac.uk/resnet) a contact, support and information network with a fairness and gender equality focus for people working in research, teaching and support roles at the University of East Anglia and the Norwich Biosciences Institutes.
  • ARIES Doctoral Training Programme Head of Training since October 2020.
  • Earth and Life Sciences Alliance (ELSA) Theme Leader for Elemental Cycles (www.norwichresearchpark.com/ourresearch/researchgroups/elsa/elsa-home.aspx


  • School of Environmental Sciences Director of Teaching for Postgraduate Taught Students, including Chair of PGT Exam Board and Chair of Staff Student Liason Committee. 2017-2021. 
  • University of East Anglia Athena Swan Central Steering Group.
  • School of Environmental Sciences 1st Year Co-Ordinator
  • School of Environmental Sciences Equality and Diversity Committee.

Professional Activities

  • Advisory Board of the GCRF Global Seaweed Star Project Safeguarding the Future of the Seaweed Industry in Developing Countries. Since 2018.
  • Chair of the Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa (CCAP) Steering Committeee. Since 2018.
  • British Phycological Society: Immediate Past President and Chair of the Awards & Training Committee 2018-2020; President 2015-2018; President Elect 2013-2015; Chair of Algal Applications Group 2013-present; Algal Applications Group 2012-2013; Awards and Training Committee 2006-2012; Council Member 2006-2008 and 2010-2013.
  • Invited participant of the United Nations Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) Working Group 38 on “The Atmospheric Input of Chemicals to the Ocean.” Funded through Global Atmosphere Watch and the World Weather Research Programme of the World Meteorological Organization, the International Maritime Organization, the U.S. National Science Foundation, the ICSU Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), The Surface Ocean-Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS) and the University of East Anglia (UEA). March 2017.
  • Plymouth University and Marine Biological Association of the U.K., External Examiner for MRes Marine Biology 2015-2018.
  • Phycological Society of America Grants and Awards Committee 2011-2014.  
  • UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC): Earth Observation Data Acquisition and Analysis Service (NEODAAS) steering committee 2004–2010; Atlantic Meridional Transect Programme consortium steering committee 2001-2006; Peer Review College 2001-2004; Marine and Freshwater Microbial Biodiversity programme Peer Review Committee 1999-2005.
  • International Scientific Committee for Advancing the Science of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) European Meeting, Nice, France, 2009; Lead Organiser 4th International Symposium on Biological and Environmental Chemistry of DMS(P), Norwich, May 2006.
  • SCOR working group on Marine Phytoplankton and Global Climate Regulation: The Phaeocystis spp. Cluster as a Model’ 2001-2005.

Teaching Interests

Modules Taught
ENV-3001Y Environmental Science
ENV-4001A Global Environmental Challenges
ENV-4006B Biodiversity and Sustainability
BIO-5013A Field Ecology 
ENV-7031A Geoengineering the Climate: Science and Policy
ENV-7030B Environmental Pollution - Science Policy and Management (Convenor)
ENV-3A20 Global Environmental Change (Convenor)
ENV-2A28 Plant, Animal and Microbial Interactions
BIO-2B15 Microbiology

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Devlopment Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

External positions

President, British Phycological Society

Aug 2015Jun 2018


Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or