Lea-Anne Henry is an ecologist with broad interests in biodiversity, biogeography, and ecosystem function. She has worked on terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems, with the overarching theme of spatial ecology including human impacts such as bottom fishing, interactions with the oil and gas industry and marine invasions. Her research combines classical taxonomy, community ecology, palaeoceanography, remote sensing and statistical modelling. Lea-Anne has been a taxonomic consultant for the Smithsonian Institute since 1999 and seeks new ways of engaging with museums and the public in appreciating the history of deep-sea science.
Beginning with her career as a Marie Curie Post-Doctoral Fellow in 2005, Lea-Anne is now a Research Fellow for the EU FP7 HERMIONE project involved in: (i) reconstructing the ocean-scale history of cold-water corals and their associated biodiversity in the Atlantic in relation to circulation dynamics; (ii) modelling biodiversity and ecosystem function on cold-water coral reefs ; (iii) taxonomy, biodiversity and biogeography of hydroids (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa) in the North Atlantic and Caribbean.
Lea-Anne is also leading on a Nesta Crucible-funded project called 'Reef-Bots: Swarm Robotics and Computer Vision for Coral Reef Restoration and Conservation'. Project partners include Prof. David Corne (MACS), Dr. Neil Robertson (EPS) and Prof. David Lane (EPS, Ocean Systems), all at Heriot-Watt University. The goal is to test the proof-of-concept that machine-learning algorithms can be used to discriminate coral fragments from other reef objects and implemented in a swarm of robots that reconstruct a coral reef.
Currently Lea-Anne is a working group member for the Deep Water Ecology Working Group for the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. In this capacity she also works closely with NGOs, intergovernmental and UK government advisors such as the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and actively encourages this engagment in a marine policy context as it relates to deep-sea conservation.