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Associate Professor in Ocean Exploration & Public Engagement, University of Southampton

My research as a marine biologist explores the patterns of life in deep-ocean environments, which cover most of our planet and face increasing impacts from climate change, pollution, and extraction of resources. By studying island-like seafloor habitats such as hydrothermal vents, my work investigates ecology ("who does what"), biogeography ("who lives where"), and evolution ("who is related to whom") in the deep ocean.

I'm based at the University of Southampton, and I'm also a Scientific Associate of the Natural History Museum in London and a National Geographic Explorer. My work includes advising policymakers on the protection of deep-sea habitats, and I'm currently an Advisory Board member for the international Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI).

My experience in ocean exploration includes planning and leading expeditions aboard research ships, using Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and Human-Occupied Vehicles (HOVs), and discovering new species of deep-sea animals. As a "bathynaut", I took part in the first dive of a human-occupied vehicle to the world's deepest known hydrothermal vents, 5 km (3.1 miles) down on the ocean floor, and the first human-occupied vehicle dives to reach 1 km (0.62 miles) deep in the Antarctic.

In the public engagement part of my role, I work with documentary-makers to share the exploration of the deep ocean with people worldwide, for example as a science advisor and onscreen contributor for BBC Blue Planet II, and I routinely interact with news media to raise awareness of deep-sea issues and my team's discoveries.

I'm the author of the book Ask An Ocean Explorer and have published more than 100 bylined "popular science" articles in outlets such The Guardian, Nature, and New Scientist, where I was previously a full-time Reporter and Assistant News Editor. I often talk about exploring the deep ocean at public events and festivals, and I'm a recipient of the Royal Society of Biology Science Communication Award for Established Researchers and the British Science Association Charles Lyell Award Lecture for Environmental Sciences.

Outside my University role, in 2006 I co-founded SciConnect Ltd with colleagues in science journalism, creating a capacity-building company that has trained more than 15,000 scientists in how to communicate their work with wider audiences. I have worked as a Director of the company as it has developed training programmes for clients including research institutions, funding bodies, government agencies, NGOs and companies across the UK and in Europe.

For more info, please see www.joncopley.com

Experience

  • 2006–present
    Co-founder & Director, SciConnect Ltd
  • 2013–present
    Associate Professor in Ocean Exploration & Public Engagement, University of Southampton
  • 2007–2013
    Lecturer in Marine Ecology, University of Southampton
  • 2005–2007
    Senior Teaching Fellow in Marine Ecology, University of Southampton
  • 2000–2005
    Teaching Fellow in Marine Ecology, University of Southampton
  • 2000–2004
    Science Coordinator (part-time), NERC Autosub Under Ice programme
  • 1998–1999
    Reporter & Assistant News Editor, New Scientist magazine

Education

  • 1998 
    University of Southampton, PhD in Oceanography
  • 1994 
    University of Southampton, MSc in Oceanography
  • 1992 
    University of Sheffield, BSc(Hons) in Zoology

Grants and Contracts

  • 2021
    SMARTEX: Seabed Mining And Resilience To EXperimental impact
    Role:
    Co-Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Natural Environment Research Council
  • 2017
    The colonisation of hydrothermal vents by complex life: a natural experiment in macroevolution
    Role:
    Co-Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Natural Environment Research Council
  • 2011
    Biogeography and ecology of the first known deep-sea vent site on the ultraslow-spreading SW Indian Ridge
    Role:
    Principal Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Natural Environment Research Council
  • 2011
    Deep-sea vents between the Azores and Iceland: missing piece in a global puzzle of marine life
    Role:
    Lead Investigator
    Funding Source:
    National Geographic
  • 2009
    Hydrothermal activity and deep-ocean biology of the Mid-Cayman Rise
    Role:
    Principal Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Natural Environment Research Council
  • 2008
    Chemosynthetic Ecosystems of the Southern Ocean
    Role:
    Co-Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Natural Environment Research Council

Professional Memberships

  • Scientific Associate of the Natural History Museum, London (since 2014)
  • Co-Chair of InterRidge initiative for international cooperation in mid-ocean ridge research, 2010-2012
  • Advisory Board Member, Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative, 2021-2023
  • National Geographic Explorer (since 2011)

Research Areas

  • Ecology (0602)
  • Zoology (0608)
  • Oceanography (0405)
  • Evolutionary Biology (0603)