• Sir John Murray was naturalist about the 1872-6 Challenger Expedition and is our founding father.
    Our history began in Edinburgh in 1884
    Our founding father: Sir John Murray
    Establishing the 'Scottish Marine Station' while editing the Challenger Expedition reports


Annual General Meeting

The next Annual General Meeting will take place in 2020 (date tbc).

Annual Newth Lecture

Since 1990, SAMS has held an annual lecture to commemorate former SAMS President and Glasgow University Professor of Zoology, David Richmond Newth FIBiol FRSE.

Who was Professor David Newth?

An annual lecture is given in memory of former SAMS President Professor David Newth, whose picture is shown. David Newth had a distinguished scientific career at the interface between biology and medicine.

Initially David was at University College, London, and the Middlesex Hospital School. From 1965 to 1981 he was Regius Professor of Zoology at the University of Glasgow. He was a most urbane individual, excellent company and a wonderful raconteur.

When he became SAMS President in 1973 he faced a considerable challenge. The decade of the 1970s was difficult for the Association. A significant part of SAMS finance from the Science Vote of the Department of Education and Science was transferred to other government departments, and projects had to be identified that would win contracts from them. Large collaborative research programmes were coming into vogue, while fish farming on the west coast was growing rapidly and the offshore oil industry was developing. At the same time, the climate of opinion was swinging against science.

In his six years of office, David Newth steered the Association with a strong and sure hand. Thereafter he served as a Vice-President until his death on 5 June 1988 at the age of 66.

The late Professor Alasdair D. McIntyre (SAMS President 1988-1993, SAMS Vice President 1993-2009) described David thus:

"David Newth was a distinguished scientist, a fair-minded and effective administrator, a man who was both strong and gentle in his approach to the challenges of his professional life. He did not flinch from difficult decisions yet took them with an understanding that inflicted least hurt. He was both an idealist and pragmatist and both of these aspects of his personality I saw displayed when he was a member of the Nature Conservancy Council. If David's spirit could be reincarnated in animal form then, given his love of cats, I imagine it as a tiger, applying the right amount of strength and energy appropriate to the occasion – but having enough in reserve to cope with the unexpected. And it was good to watch him in action. He served our Association with great distinction and with a sense of tradition in which he took a pride."

List of past Newth lectures

Anyone interested in the sea can become a SAMS member

SAMS is a charitable membership organisation to increase knowledge and education about the marine environment to benefit both the oceans and society.

Our members have always come from all walks of life: marine scientists and people working in the marine environment, lay enthusiasts, philanthropists, alumni, teachers, artists, students and school pupils.

What unites our members is

  • >an enduring interest in the marine environment
  • >a shared belief in the mission of maintaining an independent marine science organisation in Scotland
  • >wanting to keep up to date with our activities

If you share these values, why not join us? Joining SAMS as a member makes you part of the extended SAMS family. Currently we have around 300 members from all over the world.

Sea-ing the world differently: Ocean education

Since our beginnings in the 19th century public outreach has been a core activity. As champions for ocean literacy in Scotland we maintain a free visitor and outreach centre (Ocean Explorer Centre) and deliver outreach in schools, to community groups and at public events.

Membership administrator Rachel Culver in the SAMS libraryOur members are looked after by Rachel Culver. Please contact Rachel for any issues relating to your membership.

Email: Rachel.Culver@sams.ac.uk

T: +44 (0) 1631 559 000

Postal address: SAMS, Scottish Marine Institute, Oban, Argyll PA37 1QA, Scotland, UK


Find out how we look after your data here.

Benefits of SAMS membership

  • >Supporting SAMS' public outreach, school education and professional fellowship and bursary programmes
  • >Exclusive access to bursaries of upto £1,000 for research in marine science
  • >Access to SAMS' Charles Wyville Thomson library (Mon-Fri 09:00-17:00)
  • >Access to hiring our conference facilities (corporate members only)
  • >Invitation to participate in SAMS seminars as visitor and/or speaker
  • >SAMS annual report (electronic or paper copy)
  • >Ocean Explorer Magazine (paper copy)
  • >Invitation to annual event/s (AGM and Annual Newth Lecture)
  • >Right to vote for Council members and key amendments to Articles and Memorandum of Association

Membership categories and annual subscriptions

  • >Ordinary member (£12): for anyone with an enduring interest in marine science
  • >Student member (£5): open to persons under 18 years old or registered students
  • >SAMS employees (no voting rights) (£10)
  • >Unwaged (£5): including retired
  • >Corporate / Institutional (£60): for organisations who want to support marine science. Please identify a corporate representative.

The membership year currently runs from 1st April - 31 March in line with our reporting year.

How to joins SAMS

  1. Fill in our online application form
  2. When you press 'submit' this will be sent to us and you will begin your membership

How to pay for your membership subscription

There are two ways:

  • >electronically in our online shop, selecting the appropriate category
  • >send a cheque made out to 'SAMS'

If you want to be invoiced for your membership instead and pay by BACS, then please contact Rachel.

Please note that the membership year runs from 1 April to 31 March but you can join anytime throughout the year.

How to renew your membership

We automatically renew your membership unless you tell us otherwise or do not pay following a reminder email or letter. For anyone not paying automatically by standing order, please use one of the above stated payment methods.

How to cancel your membership

Please notify us in writing of your intention to withdraw from SAMS membership. We would greatly appreciate some feedback why you do not want to remain a member as we do try within our means to provide you with a valuable membership experience.

SAMS awards three different bursaries: a research bursary that is awarded twice a year, and two education/development bursaries that are awarded in alternative years.  

SAMS bursary privacy notice May19

The SAMS research bursary supports research in any marine science subject - especially if of relevance to Scotland - to a maximum of £1000 per application.

I the past this bursary has allowed visiting scientists to spend some time working at SAMS, or has been used to support travel, research assistance, completion of a project, or capital equipment purchase (for which SAMS reserves the right to retain ownership). We encourage applicants to discuss project ideas with a SAMS researcher (www.sams.ac.uk/people), and collaborative applications are welcomed.

Any application will be judged on criteria including the originality of the project, the clarity and focus of the objectives, the research plan and content, its socio-economic relevance, the probability of being completed, and other funding sources and applications.

Successful applicants should be - or are required to become - members of SAMS.

Applications are considered twice a year: on 31 March and 30 September.

Applicants should provide:

  • >a brief description of the project (no more than two pages of A4)
  • >itimised costings to justify the requested funds
  • >an indication of other funding granted or applied for
  • >a brief cv including bibliography

Applications should be sent to Professor Keith Davidson, Associate Director, by Email (Keith.Davidson@sams.ac.uk) or letter.

Recent research bursary reports

2019 SAMS bursary report Susan Evans - oceanic DMSO in oxygen minimum zones

2017 SAMS bursary report Danja Hoehn - scyphozoan blooms and temperature rise


Who was Neil MacDougall?

Pictures of the late Neil McDougall in whose memory and honour SAMS awards a bursary in practical oceanographyNeil was a SAMS expert on practical aspects of oceanography. During his years at SAMS he built up a wealth of knowledge and experience embracing nearly all aspects of the laboratory's field programme, in areas as diverse as Mediterranean beaches and the deep Atlantic. He was particularly expert in designing and deploying the deep instrumented moorings which were at the core of several oceanographic research campaigns, such as WOCE and LOIS. Neil was killed in a tragic car accident in late 1997.

People with Neil's experience are difficult to replace. The pool of expertise in practical oceanography has become seriously depleted and we thus decided to establish a studentship that allows young oceanographers to undertake training at SAMS and become the nucleus of a national pool of expertise in practical oceanography. The first studentship was awarded in 1999.

The bursary aims to give successful applicants practical experience in physical oceanographic instrumentation and associated data analysis, and usually involves time at sea. Previous bursary holders have participated in research cruises to local fjords, the Malin Shelf, the Icelandic Basin and the Svalbard Archipelago. 

The bursary

A sum of £2000 is awarded in the form of a bursary to cover the additional expenses of a two-month stay at SAMS and associated seagoing costs. The student will participate in many aspects of our fieldwork programme, such as:

  • >instrument preparation and testing
  • >mooring design and fabrication
  • >instrument and mooring deployment
  • >mooring recovery
  • >instrument calibration
  • >data analysis

The emphasis is on the acquisition of practical skills, and the student will be required to go to sea on available research cruises. Supervision will be provided by senior scientists and technologists at SAMS.

Who should apply?

The bursary is aimed at postgraduates pursuing oceanographic research in British universities, although undergraduates intending to pursue an oceanographic career are also invited to apply. In addition to the application form and CV, candidates should prepare a short statement that clearly demonstrates their commitment and enthusiasm for practical oceanography.  

If you want to find out more, please contact Polly Crooks: Polly.Crooks@sams.ac.uk

Jane Foster bursary for marine geochemistry

Who was Jane Foster?

Two pictures of the late Jane Foster during a research cruise in the Baltic both taken in the lab.Jane was a marine biogeochemist and instrumental in setting up some of our radiochemical and analytical facilities. But what she loved most was sea going fieldwork, at which she excelled!. Jane's career began at Edinburgh University with the Land Ocean Interaction Study (LOIS) where she first encountered going to sea for marine research, eventually working in many of the world’s oceans. Jane’s death from cancer in July 2002 came all too suddenly and early.

Going to sea is a unique experience and one which is hard to obtain in the early years of a scientific career, therefore - to honour Jane’s memory and encourage young marine scientists - SAMS supports a studentship that allows successful applicants to undertake such training. The bursary aims to give successful applicants experience in marine geochemical sampling and will involve some time at sea.

The studentship

The sum of £2000 is awarded in the form of a bursary to cover the expenses of a two month long stay at SAMS and associated seagoing. The student will participate in many aspects of the Institute's fieldwork programme, such as:

  • >equipment preparation and testing
  • >instrument calibration
  • >sample collection
  • >data analysis

The emphasis is on the acquisition of practical skills, and the student is required to go to sea on any available research cruises. Supervision will be provided by senior scientists and technologists at SAMS.

Who should apply

The bursary is aimed at postgraduates pursuing marine geochemical research in British universities, although undergraduates intending to pursue a marine geochemistry career are also invited to apply. In addition to the normal particulars and CV, candidates should prepare a short statement, in conjunction with their supervisor, which clearly demonstrates their commitment and enthusiasm for practical marine geochemistry.

If interested, please contact: Polly.Crooks@sams.ac.uk.


  • >Coastal Zones: Solutions for the 21st Century (2015). Baztan, J, O Chouinard, B Jorgensen, P Tett, J-P Vanderlinden & L Vasseur, (Eds). Elsevier.
  • >Shared, Plural and Cultural Values: A Handbook for Decision-Makers (2014). Kenter, JO, et al. UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge. doi:10.13140/RG.2.1.4683.5281
  • >Fjord Systems and Archives (2011). JA Howe, WEN Austin, M Forwick and M Paetzel (Eds.), GSL Special Publications. 392 pp
  • >Sustaining Coastal Zone Systems (2011) Tett, P, A Sandberg & A Mette (Eds.). Dunedin Academic Press. Edinburgh.
  • >Black, K.D.(2008) Environmental aspects of aquaculture, in Aquaculture, Innovation and Social Transformation, (eds. K. Culver, D. Castle) Springer Science and Business Media B.V. 2008, pp 99-115
  • >The World Guide to Whale and Dolphin Watching (2006). Angus Wilson and Ben Wilson. Colin Baxter Photography Ltd. 288 p
  • >Cold-water corals and ecosystems (2005). Andre Freiwald and J Murray Roberts. Springer. 1243 p
  • >Flatfishes. Biology and Exploitation (2005) Robin N Gibson (Ed.), Blackwell Publishing
  • >Aquaculture: the ecological issues (2003) Davenport, J, Black, KD, Burnell, G Cross, T Culloty, S Ekaratne, S Furness, B Mulcahy, M Thetmeyer, H  Blackwell Science, Oxford.
  • >Biogeochmistry of Marine Systems (2003) KD Black and GB Shimmield (Eds.), Blackwell Publishing
  • >Deep-Water Contourite Systems: Modern Drifts and Ancient Series, Seismic and Sedimentary Characteristics (2003) - DAV Stow, CJ Pudsey, JA Howe, J-C Faugeres & A R Viana
  • >Environmental Impacts of Aquaculture (2001) - KD Black (Ed.), Sheffield Academic Press Ltd, Sheffield, U.K.
  • >DEPOMOD: A model for predicting the effects of solids deposition from mariculture to the benthos, Scottish Association for Marine Science, Oban (2000). CJ Cromey, Nickell, TD and Black, KD (ISBN 0-9529089-1-3).
  • >Biology of Farmed Fish (1998) - KD Black & AD Pickering (Eds.), Sheffield Academic Press Ltd, Sheffield, U.K.
  • >Marine Biodiversity: Patterns and Processes (1997). RFG Ormond, JD Gage & MV Angel (Eds.)
  • >Aquaculture and Sea Lochs (1996). KD Black (Ed.). SAMS, Oban.
  • >WRASSE - Biology and Use in Aquaculture (1996). MDJ Sayer, JW Treasurer & MJ Costello (Eds.), University Press, Cambridge.
  • >A Guide to the Deep-water Fish of the North-eastern Atlantic (1994) - JDM Gordon, EM Harrison & SC Swan.
  • >Deep-Sea Biology. A Natural History of Organisms at the Deep-Sea Floor (1991). JD Gage & PA Tyler. University Press, Cambridge, U.K.
  • >Marine Biology: It's Accomplishment & Future Prospect (1991). J. Mauchline & T. Nemato. Hokusen-sha, Japan.

SAMS Board

SAMS is governed by an independent non-executive Board that meets five times a year. The Board is supported by a range of sub-committees. Our commercial subsidiary company SAMS Research Services Limited is governed by its own Board. Board members are the non-executive directors of the company and trustees of the charity.

Ultimate legal responsibility for SAMS' operations rests with the Board. The Board appoints the Director and delegates the running of SAMS to the Director and the executive team.

The learned society members of SAMS elect Board members and office bearers at the Annual General Meeting, that is usually held in early December.

An audit committee monitors the integrity of financial reporting, internal controls and risk management systems, whistleblowing and internal audit and liaises with the external auditors.

Governing documents

SAMS Articles of Association Updated 2018 

Memorandum of Association

Office bearers as confirmed at the 104th AGM of the Association on 7 Dec 2018

Group photo of trustees and members of the Governing Council meeting Dec 18



Diana Murray CBE (2019-2022)


Trustees / Board members 

Hazel Allen (2017-2020) - chairs Finance Committee

Mark Batho (2014-2017-2020) - chairs Education Committee

Professor John Baxter (2018-2021)

Sarah Brown (2018-2021)

Professor Colin Brownlee (2018-2021)

Lisa Chilton (2018-2021)

Ian Dunn (2016-2019)

Professor Ailsa Hall (2018-2021)

Dr Deborah McNeill (2018-2021)

Susan Watts (2018-2021)

Council observers: Sophie Laurie (NERC), Morag Goodfellow (HIE), Professor Neil Simco (UHI)


Vice Presidents

Professor Sir John Arbuthnott

Professor Geoffrey Boulton

Professor Andrew Hamnett


Audit Committee

John MacKerron - chair

Professor Robert Ferrier

Dr Carol Philips


Directors of SRSL

Magnus Nicolson (chair)

Stuart Cannon

Professor Axel Miller

Professor Nicholas JP Owens

Allan Thomson


The SAMS executive team 

Director & Managing Director of SRSL

Professor Nicholas JP Owens

Deputy Director / Company Secretary

Professor Axel Miller 

Associate Director, Science and Research

Professor Ben Wilson

Associate Director, Science and Education

Professor Keith Davidson

Associate Director, Science, Enterprise and Innovation

Professor Michele Stanley

Head of Human Resources

Sue Johnson

Head of Enterprise

David Guthrie

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