Personal profile

Research interests

  • Societal benefits, restoration, ecology, biodiversity & monitoring of: 
    • Shellfish reefs, 
    • Marine Protected Areas 
    • Priority habitats of nature conservation importance, 
  • The win-win between biodiversity conservation, ecosystem function and marine development
  • Biodiversity mapping and management in Marine Spatial Planning 
  • Sustainable development and habitat use by species of high biodiversity conservation importance


Sanderson’s work concentrates on the marine biodiversity research needed to support sensitive management and sustainable development. This means Sanderson has experience and ongoing research interests in Marine Environmental Restoration and Enhancement, Marine Protected Areas, Maritime Spatial Planning and Marine Built Structures.  Biogenic reefs formed by shellfish have been a strong focus of study for more than 20 years and has led to Sanderson’s leadership of the multi-award-winning Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project with industry and NGO partners: a project that will restore 4 million oysters to the Dornoch Firth. Sanderson also leads the scientific support for Restoration Forth, an ambitious community inspired restoration programme where one of Europes biggest oyster fisheries was exterpated in the late 1800's.  Sanderson hosted the international NORA European Oyster Restoration conference with the DEEP team in Edinburgh in 2019. Since joining HWU Sanderson has developed programmes focused on shellfish ecosystem services, restoration, MPA designation, indicator development and the biodiversity, mitigation and enhancement of structures in the marine environment.  Sanderson led the development of a successful case study on sustainable marine management implementation in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

From 1993 to 2010 Sanderson worked in government agency research: his strategic work concentrated on species and habitats of high nature conservation importance; underpinning MPA designation, proactive management, assessment, the formation of bylaws and enforcement. Sanderson has developed multi-institutional research collaborations on the recovery of sea-ducks and benthos after the 1996 Sea Empressoil spill, forming the corner-stone of the notification of Carmarthen Bay as the UK's first fully marine Special Protection Area. He was recruited by DGXI Civil Protection to the EU Task Force during the Galápagos oil spill.

Sanderson has contributed to national state of the environment assessments, and the developing Marine Strategy Framework Directive indicators through benthic subgroup leadership on the Healthy and Biologically Diverse Seas Evidence Group. Sanderson has served on the OSPAR Benthic Specialist Group, the Interagency Marine Monitoring Group and the UK Technical Advisory Group, on methods and strategy development under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Habitats Directive and the Water Framework Directive.

Overall, Sanderson has led applied science, monitoring and academic programmes at the forefront of sustainable maritime development and conservation totalling £6m. Sanderson has authored > 90 articles, reports and a book, he has a Google Scholar profile recording >3,000 citations and an h-index of 26.

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 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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