Research Group

Ecology and Environmental Microbiology Group

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

Master of Science (MSD) in Biological Sciences

Our research group has several exciting opportunities for research projects, towards a Master of Science by Dissertation (MSD) in the School of Life Sciences.

These are one-year postgraduate degrees that typically start in October but other start times can be negotiated with the project supervisor(s) (overseas applicants should allow additional time for visa processing). These opportunities do not come with any funding. Further information on fees and funding is available here.

To start the process, email your CV to the supervisors directly or email the postgraduate administrator Ms Emma Revill ( to suggest another project within the area of interest of one of our groups or members of staff.

Titles and supervisors

“The effect of metal and metal oxide nanoparticles on plant and soil microbial processes”, Dr Corinne Whitby and Prof. Ian Colbeck

“Effect of oxidative stress on the biochemistry of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP)-lyase enzymes in tropical reef organisms”, Dr Michael Steinke, Dr Mike Hough, Dr Jonathan Worrall

“Pollution mitigation by microbes in urban soils”, Dr Terry McGenity, Dr Corinne Whitby

“Understanding how microbes survive inside salt”, Dr Terry McGenity

“Biogenic gases from extremely saline environments – how can they inform us about life elsewhere in the Solar System”, Dr Michael Steinke, Dr Terry McGenity

"Impacts of thermal adaptation and warming on predator-prey interactions", Dr Eoin O'Gorman

Contact us
Dr Dawn Farrar Research Manager