Fatima Gianella

        Head and shoulder photo of PhD student Fatima Gianella at a visit to an oyster farm

PhD student

Fatima Gianella is a marine biologist passionate about the marine environment, water sports and seafood security. A sailor since childhood she studied Marine Biology and Ecobusiness in her hometown of Lima before coming to Europe to study the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree in Aquaculture, Environment and Society. She started her PhD research in November 2018.

Contact details:
  • fatima.gianella@sams.ac.uk
  • +44 (0)1631 559 000
  • +44 (0)8474842331

  • Linkedin
  • fatima_gianella@hotmail.com

Assessing the risk to aquaculture from harmful algal blooms (HABs)

Modelling and prediction of harmful algal events and the potential environmental drivers that lead to their likelihood, duration and intensity.

Marine organisms are an important food resource for humans. Aquaculture has become a consolidated food resource worldwide, the production from which has overtaken the traditional fisheries.

The presence, or increased production, of certain species of phytoplankton are a threat for human and animal health. Non-toxic species can also present a risk through negative impacts on organism physiology, such as damage to organ structures and creation of low oxygen environments. Such phytoplankton mediated harm is generally referred to “Harmful algal blooms” (HABs). These events having generated substantial economic losses for aquaculture through farmed fish kills and human food poisoning (often via “shellfish poisoning”). The presence, duration and intensity of a HAB event is generally related to environmental and hydrographic conditions. Modelling of these events and the analysis of potential drivers is therefore an efficient tool for the prediction of HABs. Models can provide information regarding the harmful event likelihood, duration and intensity, allowing for enhanced predictability and risk evaluation.

This research aims to identify the association strength of species producers of toxins, biotoxins and the potential environmental drivers.  A regional analysis considering these factors will enhance the understanding of risk distribution throughout Scotland. Such research is crucial to safeguard the food security of marine products.



Professor Keith Davidson, SAMS

Professor Michael Burrows, SAMS

Professor Martin Edwards, MBA



AXA XL Catlin



University of the Highlands and Islands


Project duration

Nov 2018 - Sep 2022



Martino S, Gianella F, Davidson K (2020) An approach for evaluating the economic impacts of harmful algal blooms: The effects of blooms of toxic Dinophysis spp on the productivity of Scottish shellfish farms. Harmful Algae 99: 101912 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hal.2020.101912 

Gianella F, Burrows MT, Swan SC, Turner AD and Davidson K (2021) Temporal and Spatial Patterns of Harmful Algae Affecting Scottish Shellfish Aquaculture. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8:785174. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.785174 


Employment history

Jul-Aug 2017 Research and Development Internship. Nireus S.A., Greece

June 2017 Open sea cages aquaculture technician. Hellenic Center for Marine Research, Greece

Feb-Mar 2014 Environmental Projects Internship. Ocean Green Associated Consultant SAC, Peru



2018 MSc Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree in Aquaculture, Environment and Society. University of the Highlands and Islands, University of Crete, University of Nantes

2015 BSc Marine Biology and Ecobusiness. Universidad Cientifica del Sur