• 3.13 Sciences

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I welcome enquiries from students who are considering a PhD in internal wave dynamics, turbulent mixing, ocean gliders, or any of my other areas of interest.

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Personal profile


2021: Challenger Society for Marine Science Fellow

2018–present: Associate Professor/Senior Lecturer in Physical Oceanography, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

2012–2018: Lecturer in Shelf Sea Oceanography, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

2009–2011: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Oceanography, University of Hawai‛i at Mānoa

Academic Background

2009: PhD in Physical Oceanography, Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory and University of Liverpool

2005: MOcean (first class) in Oceanography, University of Southampton and National Oceanography Centre

Key Research Interests

My research is on shelf sea and deep ocean fluid dynamics, diagnosed from both observations and numerical model simulations. I have a specific interest in internal waves and internal tides, their interactions with complex topography such as submarine canyons, their effect on turbulent mixing, biogeochemical fluxes, and sediment resuspension, and their impact on pelagic and benthic ecosystems. As a leading member of the UEA Glider Group, I have led numerous Seaglider missions and developed methods to use these autonomous vehicles for the diagnosis of internal wave energetics and turbulent mixing rates. To support these observations and investigate process interactions, I run numerical model simulations using both the Princeton Ocean Model and MITgcm.

Current Research Grants

  • Processes drIving Submarine Canyon fluxES (PISCES; NERC; PI)
  • Enabling Sustainable Wind Energy Expansion in Seasonal Stratified Seas (eSWEETS3; NERC; PI)
  • Accelerating Thwaites Ecosystem Impacts for the Southern Ocean (ARTEMIS; NSF-NERC; PI)
  • Thwaites-Amundsen Regional Survey and Network Integrating Atmosphere-Ice-Ocean Processes affecting the Sub-Ice-Shelf Environment (TARSAN; NSF-NERC; Co-I)
  • The Maritime Continent – Driver of the Global Climate System (TerraMaris; NERC; Co-I)
  • Processes Influencing Carbon Cycling: Observations of the Lower limb of the Antarctic Overturning (PICCOLO; NERC; Co-I)
  • Climate-relevant Ocean Measurements and Processes on the Antarctic continental Shelf and Slope (COMPASS; ERC; Team member)

Recent Fieldwork

  • CLASS/iATLANTIC (JC237): RSS James Cook, August–September 2022
  • TARSAN/ARTEMIS/THOR (NBP22-02): RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer, January–March 2022, Co-Chief Scientist
  • Gullmarn Fjord Boundary Mixing Experiment: Bornö Station (Sweden), September 2019
  • MeRMEED (WS1705): RV G. Walton Smith, October–November 2017

Recent Publications

Sheehan, P. M. F., G. M. Damerell, P. J. Leadbitter, K. J. Heywood, and R. A. Hall, 2023: Turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate and associated fluxes in the western tropical Atlantic estimated from ocean glider observations. Ocean Science, 19, 77–92, doi:10.5194/os-19-77-2023.

Dotto, T. S., K. J. Heywood, R. A. Hall, T. A. Scambos, Y. Zheng, Y. Nakayama, T. Snow, A. K. Wåhlin, C. Wild, M. Truffer, A. Muto, K. E. Alley, L. Boehme, G. A. Bortolotto, and E. Petite, 2022: Ocean variability beneath Thwaites Eastern Ice Shelf driven by the Pine Island Bay Gyre strength. Nature Communications, 13, 7840, doi:10.1038/s41467-022-35499-5.

Rollo, C., K. J. Heywood, and R. A. Hall, 2022: Glider observations of thermohaline staircases in the tropical North Atlantic using an automated classifier. Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems, 11, 359–373, doi:10.5194/gi-11-359-2022.

Heijnen, M. S., F. Mienis, A. R. Gates, B. J. Bett, R. A. Hall, J. Hunt, I. A. Kane, C. Pebody, V. A. I. Huvenne, E. L. Soutter, and M. A. Clare, 2022: Challenging the highstand-dormant paradigm for land-detached submarine canyons. Nature Communications, 13, 3448, doi:10.1038/s41467-022-31114-9.

Dorrell, R. M., C. J. Lloyd, B. J. Lincoln, T. P. Rippeth, J. R. Taylor, C. P. Caulfield, J. Sharples, J. A. Polton, B. D. Scannell, D. M. Greaves, R. A. Hall, and J. H. Simpson, 2022: Anthropogenic mixing in seasonally stratified shelf seas by offshore wind farm infrastructure. Frontiers in Marine Science, 9, 830927, doi:10.3389/fmars.2022.830927.

Spingys, C. P., R. G. Williams, J. E. Hopkins, R. A. Hall, J. A. M. Green, and J. Sharples, 2020: Internal-tide driven tracer transport across the continental slope. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 125, e2019JC015530, doi:10.1029/2019JC015530.

Research Group or Lab Membership

Current Postdoctoral Research Associates

  • Yixi Zheng – ARTEMIS
  • Marina Azaneu – TerraMaris

Current PhD Students

  • Brendon Yuri Damini – Antarctic continental shelf physical and biogeochamical processes
  • Eilean MacDonald – Internal waves and turbidity currents in submarine canyons
  • Jack Mustafa – Maritime Continent precipitation dynamics

Previous Postdoctoral Research Associates

  • Tiago Dotto – TARSAN

Previous PhD Students

  • Philip Leadbitter – Investigating turbulent mixing processes using high-resolution temperature sensors on autonomous ocean gliders
  • Callum Rollo – Shelf, shear and staircases: Glider observations in the North Atlantic
  • David Price – Multi-scale investigations of cold-water coral habitat using novel technology and advanced image analysis
  • Tabitha Pearman – Cold-water coral habitat mapping in submarine canyons
  • Ryan Gilchrist – Dynamics and impacts of oil spills from seabed releases in the Faroe-Shetland Channel
  • Peter Sheehan – Forcing and variability of northwestern inflows into the northern North Sea
  • Tahmeena Aslam – Internal tides in Whittard Canyon

Teaching Interests

  • Shelf Sea Dynamics and Coastal Processes (Module Organiser; ENV-5017B)
  • Marine Sciences Fieldcourse (ENV-5020K/7030K)
  • Atmosphere & Oceans (ENV-4007B)

Administrative Posts

  • Marine Sciences Course Director
  • Natural Sciences Director of Admissions (2017–2021)
  • Collaborative Centre for Sustainable Use of the Seas (CCSUS) Deputy Director
  • NERC Next Generation Unmanned Systems Science (NEXUSS) Centre for Doctoral Training Steering Committee (2017–2019)

Key Responsibilities

  • Ocean Science Editor
  • International Network for submarine Canyon Investigation and Scientific Exchange (INCISE) Steering Committee
  • NOC Association (NOCA) Upscaling of Autonomy Working Group
  • Challenger Society for Marine Science Council (2017–2020)
  • Challenger Society Coastal and Shelf Seas (CaSS) Special Interest Group Lead

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development 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 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water


  • Oceanography
  • Physics
  • Physical Oceanography

Media Expertise

  • Oceanography


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