Working with Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Fundamental research questions in areas including marine renewables, molecular biology and environment and human health are being addressed by a partnership between the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) - a marine environment research provider.

The University and PML have been working together for a number of years with the first significant projects investigating natural catalysts and the effects of pollutants in catchments taking place in 2006/07.

Developing collaborative activity in these and other fields led to the 2009 signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, which formalises the commitment to work together.

Since then collaborations have included the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) Deltas project involving Exeter academics Prof Neil Adger and Dr Helen Adams and PML’s Prof Manuel Barange.

This project aims to improve the lives of societies susceptible to climate change impacts such as sea level rise and land degradation and to equip policymakers with the knowledge to evaluate decisions affecting those living in deltas by working on models that capture ecological and physical interactions such as the effects of flooding on food security.

The University and PML have also worked on a project led by Prof Tamara Galloway looking at how microplastics pollution affects marine life.

In the video below PhD student Matthew Cole discusses investigations into whether microplankton can take up microplastics with the Rozalia Project. The project’s mission is to remove marine debris from the ocean using a number of methods.

In July 2013 the Memorandum of Understanding was renewed with plans for the future to include working with the UK Met Office, concentrating on a number of key themes such as sustainable coastal systems and improving food and water security understanding.

So far the collaboration between the two institutions has resulted in research funding of nearly £3million. Additional joint funding has been set aside by the University and PML to encourage further co-operative research projects and encourage more external funding into the region. Students training through joint doctoral studentships will also be able to capitalise on the breadth of expertise, experience and enthusiasm of scientists working at both the University and PML.

On signing the latest agreement PML Chief Executive Prof Stephen de Mora said: “This partnership builds on existing relationships but takes them further and wider and will ensure that as a joint centre of excellence the South West remains the leader in coastal and shelf seas science, not just in the UK, but globally.”