Dr Ceri Lewis

Dr Ceri Lewis

To camp in an unheated tent at temperatures of -40˚C, striving to record data with painfully frozen fingers, you really have to love your science. Dr Ceri Lewis is a marine biologist with a strong focus on understanding how marine invertebrates adapt and survive in a changing and increasingly polluted environment. In 2011 she was part of the Catlin Arctic Survey undertaking ocean acidification research in the High Arctic. “It was an incredibly tough place to go and do science, but it was also the biggest adventure of my life and the piece of research that I’m most proud of so far in my career,” she said. Not only did they publish the findings in one of the top journals, PNAS, but Ceri and colleagues also used this research to produce a highly successful educational programme called ‘Frozen Oceans,’ which is now being used in schools all around the UK to inspire the next generation of polar scientists.

There are many amazing women that Ceri draws daily inspiration from, but her biggest role model growing up was the sailor Tracey Edwards: “The idea of a group of woman taking on the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, as it was called then, on their yacht ‘Maiden’ captivated me and made me think that anything was possible if you put your heart into it and never gave up.” As well as advocating perseverance, Ceri says support is needed to help others achieve their goals. “In my position as a lecturer I get to watch some amazing young women starting out on their science careers,” she said. “They have so much to offer science but the drop-out rate by the time they get to post doc or young lecturers is still far too high. We need to support them past these critical stages if we are to stop losing all of this talent.”

Unsurprisingly, Ceri finds great joy in the ocean environment that she studies: “One of my favourite things to do is still just to go rock pooling,” she explains. “It’s what made me fall in love with marine biology as a child and I still find the diversity of life in rock pools utterly fascinating. I also love getting to share this with all of my students and nothing makes me happier than watching someone fall in love with rock pools in the same way that I did.”