Me_at_Rockall_SMALLDr Kerry Howell is head of the Deep Sea Conservation Research Unit. She is an expert in deep-sea ecology, with research interests in conservation and sustainable management, spatial management of the high seas / deep-sea, marine habitat classification, marine habitat mapping, predictive species and habitat distribution modelling, population connectivity, deep-sea food webs and ecosystem impacts of deep-water fisheries.

Nicola_Foster_smlDr Nicola Foster is a postdoctoral researcher within the group leading our mesophotic coral reef research. She has expertise in population genetics and coral connectivity, as well as ROV video and image analysis, and species identification. Her current research is looking at vertical and horizontal connectivity of mesophotic reef corals to inform conservation and management of the reef ecosystems.


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Kirsty McQuaid is a postdoctoral researcher in the group. Her PhD focused on spatial management of a polymetallic nodule-rich area of the Pacific Ocean called the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone. She is currently working on the One Ocean Hub addressing questions around spatial management of the South East Atlantic.



Amelia Bridges is a PhD student in the group. Her PhD is focused on the use of predictive habitat modelling to assess the extent & distribution of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems in the South Atlantic deep sea. By analysing & combining data from Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction & from the waters of UK Overseas Territories, Amelia hopes to build a map of where ecosystems, such as cold-water coral reefs, are found in the lesser studied South Atlantic. This work has multiple applications, including informing marine spatial planning & area-based network management in the High Seas.

xlarge_PoppyPoppy Hesketh Best is a PhD student in the group. For her PhD project she is studying the microbial communities hosted by deep-sea sponges, and investigating the untapped potential of secondary metabolites for novel biologics. This research is focused on using molecular and novel culturing techniques to characterise the microbiome of deep-sea sponges.

ClaraClara Diaz is a PhD student in the group studying mesophotic reef ecosystems. Clara is using an ROV to understand community composition of Indian Ocean mesophotic coral reefs, and to map the distribution of different communities.




Giulia La Bianca is a research assistant in the group working on several projects. Her main research area is the SeaRover project, and involves analysis of ROV footage to identify and map epifaunal distribution off the west coast of Ireland. However she is also working on mapping deep-sea ecosystem services to inform spatial management.




Rhodri Irranca-Davies is a masters student at Plymouth University. His thesis is focused on investigating the use of artificial intelligence to interpret ROV and AUV derived image data.



Kyran Graves - DeepSeaCRU Profile

Kyran Graves is an undergraduate student at Plymouth University studying Marine Biology and Oceanography. He is working with us on his final year project investigating the role of internal waves in driving patterns of deep-sea diversity. This research will give us a better understanding of how deep-sea organisms respond to oceanographic processes. Kyran hopes his research will help us to build improved habitat suitability models, which incorporate internal wave activity.



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