I’m a principal research scientist at the National Oceanography Centre and honorary professor in Ocean and Earth Sciences at the University of Southampton. I lead the Marine Biogeochemistry group, and lead an active research group. I have particular research interests in understanding the variability and climate change effects on phytoplankton populations and subsequent impacts on the biological carbon pump. My research exploits autonomous vehicles, satellite and in situ data, as well as output from biogeochemical models. In 2012, I received the EGU Award for Outstanding Young Scientist for my ‘fundamental contribution to the study of marine ecosystems’. In 2016 I was awarded a highly competitive European Research Council Consolidator grant. In 2018, I was awarded the Challenger Society fellowship in Biological Oceanography and in 2024, I was awarded the European Geophysical Union’s Fridtjof Nansen Medal.
PARTITRICS – Particle transformation and respiration influence on ocean carbon storage
NERC Strategic Research programme (BIO-Carbon)
PARTITRICS will use novel technologies and sensors to address the mesopelagic processes transforming and respiring sinking particles. We’ll be going to sea in June 2024 to undertake a comprehensive cruise programme. The data will form part of a global scaling-up of important processes to assist in validation and development of biogeochemical models. I’m the PI on this grant.
OceanICU – Understanding ocean carbon
EU Horizon Europe grant, 2022-2027
OceanICU aims to produce new data, information and understanding on the role of the ocean in the global carbon cycle. I lead a work package addressing the ecological controls on the biological carbon pump.
CALIPSO – Carbon Loss In Plants, Soils and Oceans
Schmidt Foundation grant, 2023-2028
CALIPSO will improve representation of carbon loss processes in ESMs, focusing on three critical knowledge gaps in the global carbon cycle.
GOCART – Gauging Ocean organic Carbon fluxes using Autonomous Robotic Technologies
ERC Consolidator grant, 2017-2023
GOCART will use gliders to investigate seasonal and high frequency variability in organic carbon fluxes and remineralisation. I’m the PI on this grant.
GLOBESINK – Global ocean sinking carbon flux and variability
NERC Strategic Research programme (Bio-Carbon), 2022-2024
GLOBESINK will use BGC-Argo data to construct global assessments of organic carbon flux. My role is to combining the Argo-derived flux data with satellite-derived estimates to create global, time-varying maps of flux.
CELOS – Constraining the evolution of the Southern Ocean carbon sink
NERC strategic research, 2020-2023
CELOS will contribute to understanding how changes in marine ecosystems and biogeochemistry will impact the Southern Ocean CO2 sinks. My role is leading a work package on developing alternative parameterisations of the biological carbon pump using data generated by CUSTARD.
PAST MAJOR PROJECTS:
BRICS – Biology’s Role In ocean Carbon Storage – a gap analysis
NERC Strategic Research programme (BIO-Carbon), 2022-2023
BRICS will identify knowledge gaps concerning biological processes likely to be important for future ocean carbon storage and climate feedbacks, including assessment of observational tractability, and their potential for parameterisation in the next generation of Earth System Models. I was PI on this grant.
CUSTARD – Carbon Uptake and Seasonal Traits in Antarctic Remineralisation Depth
NERC strategic research, 2018-2022
CUSTARD will examine how seasonal changes in food availability for phytoplankton in a mode water formation region influences how long carbon is trapped in the ocean rather than escape to the atmosphere as CO2. My role is leading a work package on assessing particulate organic carbon flux and remineralisation depth using ship-board observations and gliders.
COMFORT – Our common future ocean in the Earth system
EU Horizon 2020 project, 2019-2023
COMFORT will close knowledge gaps around marine tipping points under anthropogenic climate change. My role is co-leading a work package on dynamics, extremes, early warning signals and reversibility of tipping points.
COMICS – Controls over Oceanic Mesopelagic Interior Carbon Storage
NERC Large grant, 2017-2022
COMICS investigated the physical and biological drivers of variability in remineralisation depth with a combination of field work and modelling. My role was leading a work package on constructing data syntheses and mesopelagic carbon budgets to contribute to the modelling phase.
Seasonal variability in the efficiency of upper ocean carbon export
NERC New Investigator Grant, 2011-2012
This project investigated the role that seasonality plays in determining Th234-derived estimates of export flux. I was PI on this grant.
Role of phytoplankton community structure in determining the efficiency of the ocean’s biological carbon pump
NERC Independent Research Fellowship, 2009-2012
My fellowship explored the links between phytoplankton community and transfer efficiency using a combination of satellite and in situ observations.
My research interests broadly centre around phytoplankton response to perturbations in physical forcing. I have an interest in characterising the influences on carbon export efficiency and transfer to the deep ocean, including how spatial and seasonal variability in these factors arises. I also have interests in detecting and attributing long-term trends in biogeochemical timeseries, quantifying the future response of ocean biogeochemistry to climate change, and figuring out the time and space scales that we need to observe over to detect those changes.
I use all kinds of data, often satellite data, combined with in situ data, model output, anything I can get my hands on! The great advantage of this data synthesis approach is that we can increase the amount of data to understand a problem – the downside is that we can end up with mountains of data that have to be distilled into something useful. I use statistical techniques to analyse the data, and also have developed algorithms for estimating the start date of a spring bloom, locating and tracking eddies, and estimating carbon export and transfer efficiency. Recently I’ve developed an interest in using autonomous underwater vehicles to get high resolution information on the interactions between the physical environment and phytoplankton, and the resulting influence on organic carbon fluxes.