Robert Grisenthwaite

        Picture of Robert Grisenthwaite

MRes student

I completed my MSc in Climate Change: Managing the Marine Environment at Heriot-Watt University in 2018. After basing several pieces of coursework around the uses of algae. I proposed a thesis based on work previously carried out at SAMS. I sought to further identify optimum growing conditions for L.digitata in a nursery. Although the practical aspects of the project were confronted with many difficulties, this revealed the complexities of developing a stable culture of algae.

I believe that there are many issues that can be solved, or at least adhered to, through development of algaculture. Through my research I understand the truly nebulous nature of attempting to integrate the use of algae in our already busy world. The more scientists understand the characteristics and applications of various species, the more the use of algae can be ‘normalized’ in modern society.

My interest in this project is due to its connection to reducing our negative effects on Earth’s climate, through a sustainable method. Identifying a fundamental understanding into the life cycle of Asparagopsis sp, could potentially form a steppingstone for developing a stable production method. There is promising indication that dried product, as a supplement in cattle feed, can reduce methane production by up to 40%. Research into the long-term effects of this supplement in the diet alongside establishing production methods, could assist with stabilizing our climate.

I am certain that this opportunity to work at SAMS around well-established scientific researchers will give me a firm foothold to advance my career. I am driven to change society’s outlook on our marine resources, through sensible investments, decision making and continuous monitoring. I wish to contribute towards extensive research to ensure the security of our resources for future generations.

Contact details:
  • +44 (0)1631 559 000
  • +44 (0)7496 816 444

  • Linkedin
  • live:bob.gris

Establishing land tank cultivation of Asparagopsis sp. In Scotland

Asparagopsis sp. has been identified as a candidate to act as an antimethanogenic supplement in cattle feed. In quantities in as little as 0.1-0.2% of cattle feed, recent studies have revealed the positive potential of this red algae. Methane emissions from cattle have been observed to be reduced by between 40 and 98% in these small-scale studies. Leading onto interest in upscaling the research into the capabilities of these red algae.

Previous studies have used wild harvested Asparagopsis sp. from tropical and warm temperate waters. This project seeks to increase availability into these algae to have a readily available supply. This will reduce the chances of environmental damage from mass wild harvesting, and potential dangers of by-hand harvesting. To develop an understanding of the potential for using Asparagopsis sp. on a larger scale, our key aim is to identify the optimum growth conditions throughout its haplodiplophasic life cycle. Due to these species being more suited to warmer temperate waters, this work with SAMS will be developing methodology in tank conditions.

Key objectives of the research will involve identifying the conditions under which each life-cycle stage performs best to reach the adult stage. These will include water temperature, levels and length of light exposure, growth substrate and media suitability.

Achieving a readily available supply would allow long term research programs into the effects of including dried product as a supplement in cattle feed. Thus giving further evidence into the suitability of Asparagopsis sp. as a candidate to aid in reducing the carbon footprint of agriculture.



Professor Michele Stanley (SAMS)

Dr Philip Kerrison (SAMS)



University of the Highlands and Islands

Fieldwork experience

During my time at Heriot-Watt I engaged with multiple forms of fieldwork in the marine environment. We practiced shore surveys on the east and west coast of Scotland. Key aims of this work were to analyse their topography, substrate types, factors of exposure, and fauna and flora present. On a few occasions I led teams of students to complete these shore surveys. Ensuring that everyone was informed of their roles and data was collected in line with JNCC MNCR littoral survey guidance. I have also had experience as a marine survey diver, whilst on field courses based at Heriot-Watts Orkney campus. Tasks included collecting survey data under MNCR sublittoral survey guidance, as well as photographical and video records of activity and findings.

My time at Heriot-Watt also including a two-week expedition to Malaysia. We were based on Pulau Bidong to complete our Tropical Coral Reefs: Monitoring and Management course, in collaboration with the University of Terengganu. Here we practised the techniques required to collect data under the Reef Check guidelines, surveying corals, key species, invasive species and human interaction with the reefs.

My undergraduate thesis was titled, ‘A comparison of species composition in coastal saline lagoons in the Firth of Forth, south west Scotland and the Uists.’ I collaborated data collected from surveys across the Uists with my own from saline lagoons on the mainland of Scotland. Sampling techniques included, stone washing, algae washing, sweep netting and sediment collection.


09/19 - 11/19 - Marine Protected Area Intern and Divemaster Student, Bali Diving Academy

07/17 - 08/17 - Volunteer aquarium assistant, St Abbs Marine Station, Eyemouth

06/17 - 08/16 - Volunteer marine invertebrate curator, National Museum of Scotland Collection Centre, Edinburgh

07/14 - Turtle conservation volunteer, International Student Volunteers, Costa Rica


Higher Education

2018 - MSc (Hons) Climate Change: Managing the Marine Environment, Heriot-Watt University

2017 - BSc (Hons) Marine Biology, Heriot-Watt University