I examine the impact of climate change and pollutants on marine organisms and ecosystems, with particular focus on tropical and cold-water coral reefs. I explore how Past events have impacted upon marine ecosystems and organisms, examine how organisms have adapted to survive in a wide variety of Present day systems, and use aquaria experiments to predict how Future projected changes will impact organism fitness. By combining climate research with potential pollution problems, I also investigate how nanoparticles from sunscreen may exacerbate the bleaching response of corals, and whether oil-degrading microbes can still ‘clean up’ oil spills in a future ocean.
I studied Marine and Environmental Biology at the University of St. Andrews before taking a PhD at the University of Essex examining acclimation and adaptations of corals across environmental gradients. In 2009, I went to the University of Delaware (USA) to research harmful algal bloom photophysiology in a variety of environments, and mechanisms underlying tropical coral bleaching. Following that, I moved to Heriot-Watt University to conduct the first long-term experiments on cold-water corals in a changing ocean. My NERC Fellowship examined the impact of climate change in tropical and cold-water corals, and my fieldwork throughout my career has included expeditions to UK and Norway cold-water coral reefs, and tropical coral reefs in destinations such as Indonesia and the Maldives.
I was lead editor of a United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity report on ocean acidification, am on the steering group for the MASTS Dynamics and Properties of Marine Systems theme, and am an Editorial Board Member for Nature Scientific Reports.