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Centre for

Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology

From the shoreline to the deep ocean, tackling issues from pure ecology
and physiology to aquaculture, marine spatial planning and conservation.


Lauren McWhinnie

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After doing her undergraduate degree in Marine and Freshwater Biology, Lauren moved to Heriot-Watt University where she received her PhD, her work focused on developing tools using Geographical Information Systems to aid marine spatial planning and aquaculture site selection. 

Through her PhD work her research interests have expanded to include several aspects of marine management from conservation initiative such as MPAs to mitigation management for climate change scenarios and the inclusion of stakeholder inputs and collaborations. 

In addition to research and teaching work, Lauren sits on the MASTS Marine Planning and Governance forum steering group, she has also helped to establish ScienceSea Sketches, and initiative for communicating marine science through the use of cartoons.

Lauren is now working as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada where her work now lies at the interface of social science and science in the management of coastal environments.  Current projects that she is involved with are focussed on mapping marine acoustics and noise from shipping traffic using acoustic and AIS data, the impacts this may have on marine mammals in particular and potential mitigation and management scenarios for minimising noise pollution.

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Prof. Stewart Angus

Stewart Angus is an Honorary Professor in the School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University and holds an Honorary Senior Lectureshio in Geosciences at the University of Aberdeen. 

He is a Policy and Advice Manager in Scottish Natural Heritage, specialising in coastal habitats.  His work covers coastal casework, monitoring and survey of: sand dunes, machair, cliffs, shingle, saltmarsh and saline lagoons.  Current work addresses possible impacts of climate change on these habitats, both directly and via human responses to coastal change.

He began his career with the Nature Conservancy Council in 1978, covering Sutherland, where he became involved in the conservation of the peatlands of Sutherland and Caithness at an early stage.  He then returned to hs native Western Isles, where he became Area Manager on the formation of Scottish Natural Heritage, moving to the advisory section of SNH after 5 years.

As well as a wide range of papers, he has published two volumes of a trilogy on the natural history of the Outer Hebrides, and is currently working on the finals volume.

His main research interests cover machair and sline lagoons, and increasingly feature the functionality and connectivity of these, as well as the way past management might influence future responses to climate change.

He is Director of the SCAPE Trust and a member of the MASTS Coastal Processes and Dynamics Forum.

Alan Fox

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Alan Fox is working on a 2-year, part-time Daphne Jackson Research Fellowship starting in October 2014. The Daphne Jackson Trust arrange fellowships for people returning to careers in science and technology, the Fellowship is sponsored by Heriot-Watt University.

Alan is based in CMBB and working jointly with Prof. Murray Roberts (CMBB) and Prof. David Corne (Mathematics and Computer Science) on the connectivity of marine protected area networks. Alan is developing a graph theory approach to assessing connectivity of protected areas in Scottish waters with particular application to cold-water coral.

Connectivity between separate populations is fundamental to population resilience, recovery, spread, management and conservation. For many benthic species this connectivity is governed by the transport of pelagic larvae by the currents. The work uses computer modelling of ocean currents and larval behavior to map the connections between spatially isolated, protected populations of cold-water corals and other reef-forming species. The resulting network will be analysed using results and metrics from mathematical graph (or network) theory, to identify important sites and pathways, find gaps and look at methods to optimize the network for marine protection taking due account of competing socio-economic interests. Longer term, combined with monitoring, network characteristics will help determine the essential properties of successful marine protected areas and feed into protected area network design.

Prior to his career break, Alan had ten years experience in postdoctoral research in physical oceanography, and has research experience on circulation in shelf sea fronts, developing and applying numerical models of the oceans, assimilation of data into global ocean models, large-scale ocean circulation, mixing and heat transport.


Prof. John Baxter

John Baxter is a marine biologist and holds Honorary Professorships as Heriot-Watt and St Andrews Universities.  He is Principal Adviser - Marine for Scottish Natural Heritage and is involved in the delivery of a wide range of policy initiatives such as the implementation of the Marine (Scotland) Act requirements to designate a series of Marine Protected Areas, the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, and sits on various advisory groups such as the MASTS International Advisory Board, the Special Committee on Seals and the MarLIN Steering Group.

He co-ordinates work on marine climate change issues, including the MarClim survey in Scotland and it Chair of the Expert review Group for the UK Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership.  He is also vice-chair of the Ocean Acidification - International Refererence User Group that seeks to help convey the results of scientific research on ocean acidification in the most appropriate format to politicians, their advisers and other decision makers.  He is Chief Editor (Marine) for the international journal Aquatic Conservation - Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.


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Ruth Hoban

Ruth Hoban

Ruth is an Honorary Fellow in the School of Life Sciences. Ruth is a marine scientist who is working in Scottish fisheries and marine management. She carried out her MSc in Marine Environmental Management and worked on a research project with the Isle of Man government to assess the use of environmental performance indicators as an assessment of marine ecosystem health.

Ruth is involved with marine research organisations carrying out marine mammal surveys in the North and Irish Seas and around the Canary Islands. Her research aims to gain a better understanding into cetacean distribution and migration.

Ruth is currently working with the Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust to develop a viable fisheries management framework for the Firth of Clyde. Working closely with fishermen, fishery managers, government, academics and other industry stakeholders, Ruth's work is focused on ensuring sustainability and profitability for the Firth of Clyde's inshore fisheries.