Research Group

Ecology and Environmental Microbiology Group

Two  orange clown fish swimming just above the yellow strands of an anenome.

Global biodiversity and by association ecosystem functioning is rapidly changing in response to changes in environmental and climatic conditions.

Understanding the ecological mechanisms behind these changes and providing clear management and policy recommendations are among the great challenges of the 21st century.

We are actively addressing this challenge across all levels of biological organisation (from genes to ecosystems) and across taxonomic groups (from microbes to macro-organisms).

To facilitate this, our research group of core academics focuses on four broad themes: biodiversity (including microbial), climate and environmental change, biogeochemical cycling, and environmental biotechnology. This includes work via our globally reaching Coral Reef Research Unit.

Funding and Facilities

We have an extensive network of national and international collaborations through projects funded by the NERC, BBSRC, EU FP7/H2020, Earthwatch and industry.

We have also been involved in several responsive projects and many major large directed research programmes from NERC , including: Ocean Acidification, Macronutrient Cycling, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Sustainability, Environmental Microbiology and Human Health.

Our research is supported via state-of-the-art laboratory and facilities infrastructure and continuously produces high impacting papers covering the broad range of research fields.

Working with Business

We offer many ways for you to access our expertise, including consultancy, collaborative and commissioned research and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.

These are some of the current and recently completed projects and programmes which are collaborative with and sponsored by industry:

  • The oil industry - Oil Plus Ltd, Shell, BP, Syncrude
  • Forestry Research - Forestry Commission (Forest Research)
  • Fisheries - CEFAS, Colchester Oyster Fishery
  • UK Government - Defra and the Environment Agency
  • Waste water treatment companies - Severn Trent
  • Defence industry - BAE Systems

Research degrees in Life Sciences

We have a vibrant postgraduate community, and are always keen to recruit new postgraduate research students (both PhD and Master of Science by Dissertation). Throughout the year we may have funded opportunities, such as PhD projects funded by NERC ARIES Doctoral Training Partnership.

Please feel free to contact individual group members if you are interested in postgraduate research. Many of our academics maintain lists of project titles that they are happy to supervise on, and may be able to help you narrow down your choice in what to research.

Our academic members

Dr Nick Aldred

Group member

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Dr Thomas Cameron

Group member

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Dr David Clark

Group member

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Professor Alex Dumbrell

Group member

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Dr Robert Ferguson

Group member

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Dr Leanne Hepburn

Group member

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Dr Natalie Hicks

Group member

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Dr Jennifer Hoyal Cuthill

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Dr Philippe Laissue

Group member

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Dr Boyd McKew

Group member

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Dr Gerrit Nanninga

Group member

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Dr Eoin O'Gorman

Group member

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Professor David Smith

Group member

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Dr Michael Steinke

Group member

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Dr Anna Sturrock

Group member

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Dr Michelle Taylor

Group member

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Professor Graham Underwood

Group member

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Dr Corinne Whitby

Group member

School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

A sample being held up to the light in a lab
Our research

Our research covers the whole spectrum of biology – from the cell right through to communities and ecosystems. Two-thirds of our research was rated as 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' (REF 2014)

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Contact us
Liz Lee Reynolds Research Manager