Research activity per year

Personal profile


Alex Poulton is Professor of Plankton Ecology and Biogeogchemistry at Heriot Watt University, with over 25 years of experience in marine sciences and research interests marine ecology and ocean biogeochemistry.

Current projects:

  • Enhanced carbon export driven by internal tides over the mid-Atlantic ridge (CarTRidge), 2024-2027
  • Coccolithophore controls on ocean alkalinity (CHALKY), 2023-2026
  • Integrating drivers of Atlantic productivity (IDAPro), 2023-2026
  • OceanICU (Improving Carbon Understanding), 2022-2027
  • Revealing coccolithophore trait diversity and its climatic impacts (Cocco Trait), 2022-2025
  • Impacts of bottom trawling on seabed carbon storage, 2024-2027

Alex moved to the Lyell Centre for Earth and Marine Sciences and Technology in Edinburgh in the spring of 2017 after working at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC). Alex received a PhD in Biological Oceanography from the University of Southampton and held a Natural Environmental Research Council Fellowship (NERC) at NOC. He remained at the NOC as a Senior Researcher and then Principal Researcher, managing a research group examining ocean carbon and nutrient dynamics.

Alex has participated in 20 research cruises, including the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic and Southern Ocean. He has published over 115 peer-reviewed articles, acted as a Guest Editor for two special issues in Progress in Oceanography and is currently an Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Plankton Research and a member of the NERC peer-review college.

Alex's publications reflect his strong research interests in global plankton ecology and aquatic biogeochemistry, specifically the linkages between diversity, primary production, bio-mineralisation, nutrient recycling, elemental stoichiometry, growth, mortality and export. He has worked on several large-scale research projects, including the Atlantic Meridional Transect (AMT), UK Ocean Acidification, and Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry programmes.

Alex likes to pursue novel and innovative science, including new perspectives, addressing various research topics, with the hope of challenging established paradigms and redefining understanding - an example of this is his co-authored papers on the ecology, biogeochemistry and adaptation to climate change of fossilized coccolithophores (what he terms 'swimming with dinosaurs').

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water


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