Dr Matthew Davey

        Dr Matthew Davey

Associate Professor of Physiological Ecology

I specialise in algal physiology, innovation and ecology. My research interests are in the diversity and plasticity of metabolic traits, especially in extreme habitats. Using a translational approach, I am applying the unique techniques and expertise I have developed in these ecosystems to produce sustainable and innovative solutions in the bio-economy and other sectors.

Contact details:

I am an algal physiologist and ecologist. My key interests are in understanding the diversity and plasticity of metabolic traits in natural ecosystems and how such knowledge can be translated for innovation purposes.

The main themes of my group are: Environmental Metabolomics and Physiology – discovering traits associated with cold tolerance, the role of metabolic plasticity in responding to environmental and climate change, the distribution of metabolic traits across populations and its implications for astrobiology, and Algal Biotechnology and Innovation – exploring novel sources of sustainable biomaterials, nutrients, high value products, feedstocks and bioenergy for the bioeconomy and space sector.

I carry out research and supervision on a wide range of algal topics from the ecology of snow algae in Antarctica, remote sensing polar algae blooms, using algae for bioenergy, bioremediation, pigments and food production on earth across all continents to exploiting algae to help astronauts on long term space missions. I also lead the EU EIT-Food international algae biotechnology training courses across Europe.

At SAMS my research (PDRAs, PhDs, MSc, technicians, interns) and coordination team (PGT coordinator, EIT PMs) is on average 10-12 people over each year on numerous projects. I am the Programme Leader, and module leader on the new UHI MSc Algal Biotechnology course and a Science Advisor for the UKRI NERC CCAP facility at SAMS. At the University of Cambridge I co-established and managed the Algal Innovation Centre, and at CCAP-SAMS I co-developed the new UKRI-NERC supported Algal Research, Innovation and Environmental Science Centre (ARIES). I have contributed to and led position papers and policy documents and advise Government Departments in the sector (COP26 Earth Observation briefing document, DEFRA, ESA BioMoon UK Space sector committee), BIS and CEN, EABA). I was also serving on the UKRI NERC-NBAF/NEOF steering committee for five years. All of this contributes to impactful knowledge transfer and engagement with Government, public bodies and outreach events including appearing in national and international media.

I have led and coordinated four large Antarctic research field seasons, developing the first map of snow algae blooms in the region, which resulted in one of the most impactful scientific papers of 2020.


Current Research and Activities

SAGA: The past, present and future of snow algae in Antarctica: a threatened terrestrial ecosystem? (PI). Partners at University of Edinburgh, University of Cambridge and British Antarctic Survey.

Funder: NERC Standard Grant Start & end date: 2021-2024

SAMS Ecosnow SAGA team: Dr Alex Thomson, Naomi Thomas and Vaila Grigg


EIT Food Algal biotechnologytechniques for the sustainable bioeconomy (PI)

Funder: EIT Food, 2023-2025


EIT Food INSPIRE Restorative Aquaculture Autumn School (PI)

Funder: EIT Food, 2023-2025


CASP-ICE: Cryospheric Algal Sampling Protocols - International Collaboration and Exchange

Funder: NERC Environmental sciences: global partnerships scheme (Bristol University), 2023-2024


UKRI CCAP-SAMS, numerous research projects for algal metabolite and growth analysis with industry and academic partners

Funder: Various, ongoing


Snow algae full gene sequencing

Funder: NERC NEOF PACBIO snow algae full gene sequencing, 2021-2023


PhD Life at the limits – Algal physiology under extreme conditions

Funder: University of Edinburgh E4 NERC DTP (PI M Davey, Co-I C Cockell), 2022-2025


Programme Leader MSc Algal Biotechnology and Bioeconomy SAMS-UHI


Selected past projects I developed, coordinated and/or managed



Snow algae single cell genomics and microscopy

Funder: NERC SUPER REP EDI, 2023


UKRI CCAP-SAMS, numerous research projects for algal metabolite and growth analysis with industry and academic partners

Funder: Various


Assessing algae for the ink industry

Funder: EU EIT Food IMPACT award, 2022


Assessing antimicrobial activity in snow algae field samples

Funder: UHI-MESE University Innovation Fund, 2022


EUROPLANET Dormancy and revivability of cryophilic algae in Icelandic ecosystems

Funder: EUROPLANET, 2021


Research Covid re-boot funds. Single cell genomics and flow cytometry of snow algae field samples

Funder: Scottish Funding Council (SFC) 2021-2022


Sustainable inks – a broad brush approach to screen for vibrant algal pigments:

Funder: BBSRC Algae-UK NIBB 2020-2021


Metabolic mapping to understand and improve the production of omega-3 in algae (led by Prof Alison Smith, Cambridge):

Funder: BBSRC Algae-UK NIBB 2020-2021


The Circular Economy of Fruits and Vegetable Supply in Eastern Africa

Funder: The Royal Society International Collaboration Awards, 2019-20.


Capacity building in Ghana for cultivation of high value compound producing microorganisms

Funder: Cambridge-Africa ALBORADA Research Fund, 2020


Novel approaches for valorisation of crop waste to new products and processes in Ghana

Funder: UK Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) , 2019-2021


MELiSSA ESA space programme on food sustainability

Funder: European Space Agency - MELiSSA , 2018-2022


Snow algae communities and remote sensing at King George Island, Antarctica research expedition

Funder: Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH) support, 2018-2019


Snow algae – are they the most abundant photosynthetic organisms in terrestrial Antarctica?

Funder: Leverhulme Research Grant, 2017-2020


Determining the diversity of vitamin-producing bacteria in Antarctic snow algal communities

Funder: BAS Innovation and Impact Collaboration Award, 2017


Undiscovered High Value Products from Polar Algae

Funder: NERC IAA Knowledge Exchange Award – British Antarctic Survey, 2014


Metabolic characteristics of terrestrial algae and plants in Antarctica – research visit to Antarctica

Funder: British Antarctic Survey – Collaborative Gearing Scheme, 2014


British Antarctic Survey. Exploring and exploiting metabolic diversity in polar algae

Funder: NERC IAA Knowledge Exchange Award, 2013


Training, Innovation and Policy

Algal biotechnology – techniques for the sustainable bioeconomy

Funder: EIT-Food, 2018-20


Playground to Polar – Comparing Antarctic and UK Biodiversity

Funder: Primary School Partnership Outreach Grant, 2018

Consortium on Algal Biotechnology for Bioeconomy-Driven Future

Funder: British Council – Turkey, 2018


Implementing Algebra guidelines to risk assessments of scale-up of non-native species


Growth optimisation in next generation algal bioreactors for bioactive compounds


Expanding the range of algal species suitable for membrane harvesting


Batch scale cultivation of non-UK native tropical marine diatoms  

Funder: BBSRC - PHYCONET NIBB, 2017-2018

Increasing algal growth and harvesting efficiency in glasshouses


Research Grade Algae – a supply bottleneck in algal research

Funder: BBSRC - PHYCONET NIBB, 2015-2016

Agri-Inno: Stimulating Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Egypt’s Agricultural Sector

Funder: BBSRC Impact Acceleration Award Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), 2017

Scoping a new collaborative and training networks in microbial and invertebrate biotechnology and ‘omics’ in Malaysia

Funder: NERC-GCRF-BAS International Development Innovation and Impact Award, 2017

Importing non-native algae – clarifying UK legal requirements for the biotechnology industry


Environmental Field Techniques for Scaling Molecular Physiology to Leaf and Crop Canopy (Portugal)

Funder: NERC Advanced Training: International Short Courses, 2014-2016

Bio-cosmetics from Lithops

Funder: BBSRC NIBB High Value Chemicals from Plants, 2015

Algal Biorefinery and AD: routes for energy and nutrient recovery

Funder: NERC AB-SIG SPARK PLUS, 2014-2015



Development of the Algal Innovation Centre, University of Cambridge

Funder: EnAlgae and Cambridge University, 2015

This unique facility in the UK allow us to study non-native algal species for ecological and biotechnological purposes at a much larger and controlled scale


Plant and Algal Growth Facility energy saving and LED light conversion projects

Funder: Cambridge University Energy and Carbon Reduction Project, 2014




Peer-reviewed publications

Wood EE, Ross ME, Jubeau S, Montalescot V, MacKechnie K, Marchington RE, Davey MP, McNeill S, Hamilton C, Stanley MS (2023) From green to orange: The change in biochemical composition of phototophic-mixotrophic Chromochloris zofingiensis in pilot-scale photobioreactors. Algal Research 75: 103238. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.algal.2023.103238

Slocombe SP, Zúñiga-Burgos T, Chu L, Mehrshahi P, Davey MP, Smith AG, Camargo-Valero MA and Baker A (2023) Overexpression of PSR1 in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii induces luxury phosphorus uptake. Front. Plant Sci. 14:1208168. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2023.1208168/full 

Llavero-Pasquina M, Geisler K, Holzer A, Mehrshahi P, Mendoza-Ochoa GI, Newsad SA, Davey MP, Smith AG (2022) Thiamine metabolism genes in diatoms are not regulated by thiamine despite the presence of predicted riboswitches. New Phytologist. 235(5):1853-1867. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.18296

Martin N, Bernat T, Dinasquet J, Stofko A, Damon A, Deheyn DD, Azam F, Smith JE, Davey MP, Smith AG, Vignolini S, Wangpraseurt D (2021) Synthetic algal-bacteria consortia for space-efficient microalgal growth in a simple hydrogel system. J Appl Phycol https://doi.org/10.1007/s10811-021-02528-7

Gray A, Krolikowski M, Fretwell P, Convey P, Peck LS, Mendelova M, Smith AG and Davey MP (2021) Remote Sensing Phenology of Antarctic Green and Red Snow Algae Using WorldView Satellites. Frontiers in Plant Science. 12: 8

Gray A, Krolikowski M, Fretwell P, Convey P, Peck LS, Mendelova M, Smith AG, Davey MP. 2020. Remote sensing reveals Antarctic green snow algae as important terrestrial carbon sink. Nature Communications. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-16018-w

Wangpraseurt D, You S, Azam F, Jacucci G, Gaidarenko O, Hildebrand M, Kühl M, Smith AG, Davey MP, Deheyn DD, Chen S, Vignolini S. 2020. Bionic 3D printed corals. Nature Communications.

Bunbury F, Helliwell KE, Mehrshahi P, Davey MP, Salmon D, Holzer A, Smirnoff N, Smith AG. 2020. Physiological and molecular responses to B12 deprivation of a newly evolved auxotroph of Chlamydomonas. Plant Physiology

Davey MP, Norman L, Sterk P, Huete‐Ortega M, Bunbury F, Kin Wai Loh B, Stockton S, Peck LS, Convey P, Newsham KK, Smith AG. 2019. Snow algae communities in Antarctica – metabolic and taxonomic composition. New Phytologist. 222 (3), 1242-1255

Shahab RL, Brethauer S, Davey MP, Luterbacher JS, Smith AG, Vignolini S, Studer MH. 2019. The Lactate Platform – A Consortium Based Consolidated Bioprocessing Strategy for the Yield-Optimized Production of Volatile Fatty Acids from Lignocellulose. Science 369. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abb1214

Reynolds S, Davey MP, Aldridge D. 2019. Harnessing Synthetic Ecology for high value algae production. Nature Scientific Reports. 9 (1), 9756

Buayam N, Davey MP, Smith AG, Pumas C. 2019. Effects of Copper and pH on the Growth and Physiology of Desmodesmus sp. AARLG074 Metabolites 9 (5), 84

Ridley CJA, Parker BM, Norman L, Schlarb-Ridley B, Dennis R, Jamieson AE, Clark D, Skill SC, Smith AG, Davey MP. 2018. Growth of microalgae using nitrate-rich brine wash from the water industry. Algal Research 33, 91-98

Davey MP, Armitage E, Palmer B, Quick WP, Woodward FI. 2018. Cold acclimation duration, photosystem II maintenance and survival in Arabidopsis lyrata spp. petraea. BMC Plant Biology 18 (1), 277

Nunes M, Davey MP, Coomes D. 2017. On the challenges of using field spectroscopy to measure the impact of soil type on leaf traits. Biogeosciences. 14: 3371-3385

Lea-Smith DJ, Ortiz-Suarez ML, Lenn T, Nürnberg DJ, Baers LL, Davey MP, et al. 2016. Hydrocarbons are essential for optimal cell size, division and growth of cyanobacteria. Plant Physiology. 172: 1928-1940

Abdul-Awal SM, Hotta CT, Davey MP, Smith AM, Webb AAR. 2016. NO-mediated [Ca2+]cyt increases are dependent on ADP-ribosyl activity in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology. 171: 623-631

Groen SC, Westwood JH, Jiang S, Murphy AM, Davey MP, et al. 2016. Virus infection of plants alters pollinator preference: A payback mechanism for susceptible hosts? PLoS Pathology. 12(8): e1005790

Tanaka K, Edwards JEM, Butlin RK, Burke T, Quick WP, Urwin P, Davey MP. 2016. Tissue culture as a source of replicates in non-model plants: variation in cold tolerance in Arabidopsis lyrata ssp. petraea. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. 6: 3817-3823

Lea-Smith DJ, Biller SJ, Davey MP, Cotton CAR, Sepulveda BMP, Turchyn AV, Scanlan DJ, Smith AG, Chisholm SW, Howe CJ. 2015. Contribution of cyanobacterial alkane production to the ocean hydrocarbon cycle. PNAS. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1507274112

Howlett R, Davey MP, Quick WP, Kelly D. 2014. Metabolomic analysis of the food-borne pathogen: application of direct injection mass spectrometry for mutant characterization. Metabolomics 5: 887-896

Adesanya VO, Davey MP, Scott SS, Smith AG. 2014. Kinetic modelling of growth and storage molecule production in microalgae under mixotrophic and autotrophic conditions Bioresource Technology. 157: 293

Davey MP, Duong GH, Tomsett E, Litvinenko ACP, Howe CJ, Horst I, Smith AG. 2014. Triacylglyceride production and autophagous responses in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii depend on resource allocation and carbon source. Eukaryotic Cell. 13: 392-400

Field K, George R, Fearn B, Quick WP, Davey MP. 2014. Subterranean photosynthetic activity and functional adaptation in the desert succulent Lithops aucampiae PloS one 8 (10), e75671 #

Berg B, Liu C, Laskowski R, Davey MP. 2013. Relationships between nitrogen, acid-unhydrolyzable residue, and climate among tree foliar litters. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 43: 103-107.

Vignolini S, Davey MP, Bateman RM, Rudall PJ, Moyroud E, Tratt J, Malmgren S, Steiner U, Glover BJ. 2012. The mirror crack’d: both pigment and structure contribute to the metallic blue appearance of the Mirror Orchid, Ophrys speculum. New Phytologist. 196: 1038-1047.

Davey MP, Susanti N, Wargent J, Findlay J, Quick WP, Paul N, Jenkins G. 2012. The UV-B photoreceptor UVR8 promotes photosynthetic efficiency in Arabidopsis exposed to high levels of UV-B. Photosynthesis Research. 114: 121-131.

Bokhorst S, Bjerke JW, Davey MP, Taulavuori K, Taulavuori E, Laine K, Callaghan TV, Phoenix GK. 2010. Impacts of extreme winter warming events on plant physiology in a sub-Arctic heath community. Physiologia Plantarum. 140(2): 128-140.

Berg B, Davey MP, Emmett B, Faituri M, Hobbie S, Johansson MB, Liu C, De Marco A, McClaugherty C, Norell     L, Rutigliano F, De Santo AV. 2010. Factors influencing limit values for pine needle litter decomposition - a synthesis for boreal and temperate pine forest systems. Biogeochemistry. 100: 57-73.

Lake JA, Field KJ, Davey MP, Beerling DJ, Lomax BH. 2009. Metabolomic and physiological responses reveal multi-phasic acclimation of Arabidopsis thaliana to chronic UV radiation. Plant Cell and Environment. 32: 1377.

Kunin WE, Vergeer P, Kenta T, Davey MP, Burke T, Woodward FI, Quick WP, Manerelli ME, Watson-Haigh NS, Butlin R. 2009. Variation at range margins across multiple spatial scales: environmental temperature, population genetics and metabolomic phenotype. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276: 1495-1506.

Davey MP, Woodward FI, Quick WP. 2009. Intraspecific variation in cold-temperature metabolic phenotypes of Arabidopsis lyrata ssp. petraea.  Metabolomics 5: 138-149.

Davey MP, Burrell MM, Woodward FI, Quick WP. 2008. Population specific metabolic phenotypes of Arabidopsis lyrata ssp. petraea. New Phytologist 177(2). 380-388.

Davey MP, B Berg, P Rowland, BA Emmett. 2007. Decomposition of oak leaf litter is related to initial litter Mn concentrations. Canadian Journal of Botany. 85(1). 16-24.

Davey MP, H Harmens, TW Ashenden, R Edwards, R Baxter. 2007. Species-specific effects of elevated CO2 on resource allocation in Plantago and Armeria maritima. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology. 35(3): 121-129.

Davey MP, DN Bryant, I Cummins, P Gates, TW Ashenden, R Baxter, R Edwards. 2004. Effects of elevated CO2 on the vasculature and phenolic secondary metabolism of Plantago maritima. Phytochemistry. 65. 2197-2204.


Reviews and Book Chapters

Colesie C, Walshaw CV, Sancho LG, Davey MP, Gray A. 2022. Antarctica's vegetation in a changing climate. WIREs Climate Change. https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.810

Davey MP, Smith AG, Mehrshahi P, Harrison E, Mastroleo F, Leys N (2021) Microalgae biotechnology for space applications. In: Position Paper: Why Space? The opportunity for Health and Life Science Innovation. Ed. Kate Robson-Brown, Philip Carvil. UK Space Life and Biomedical Sciences Association. http://www.ukspacelabs.co.uk/news-events/association-news/357-why-space

Bamber J, Bates P, Brindley H, Evans B, Jackson T, Merchant C, Davey M, Palmer P, Scott M, and Spencer T (2021) Space-based Earth Observations for climate security. COP26 Universities Network Briefing. https://www.gla.ac.uk/media/Media_792662_smxx.pdf

White D, Silkina A, Skill S, Oatley-Radcliffe D, Van Den Hende S, Ernst A, De Viser C, Van Dijk W, Davey MP, Day J. 2015. Best Practices for the Pilot-Scale Cultivation of Microalgae, Public Output report of the EnAlgae project, Swansea, UK. Available online at www.enalgae.eu.

Silkina A, Flynn K, Llewellyn C, Bayliss C. [eds] 2015. Standard Operating Procedures for Analytical Methods and Data Collection in Support of Pilot-Scale Cultivation of Microalgae. Public Output report WP1A3.01 of the EnAlgae project, Swansea, UK. (contributing author).

Howlett R, Davey MP, Kelly D. 2017. Campylobacter jejuni:  Methods and Protocols. Book Chapter published in "Methods in Molecular Biology". Ed: A. Stintzi and J. Butcher.  Springer.

Brunetti C, George RM, Tattini M, Field K, Davey MP. 2013. Metabolomics in plant environmental physiology. Journal of Experimental Botany. 64: 4011–4020

Davey MP and Smith AG. 2013. Book review: Lipids in photosynthesis. Essential and regulatory functions. Annals of Botany. 111(2): viii-ix.

Davey MP. Metabolite identification, pathways and omic integration using online databases and tools. 2011. In: Handbook of Molecular Microbial Ecology:  Metagenomics and Complementary Approaches Ed. F de Bruijn. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 9780470644799

Davey MP. Plant environmental metabolomics. 2010. In: Metabolomics: Metabolites, Metabonomics and Analytical Technologies. Ed. Knapp JS and Cabrera WL. Nova Science Publishers. NY.

Scott SA, Davey MP, Dennis JS, Horst I, Howe CJ, Lea-Smith DJ, Smith AG. 2010. Biodiesel from algae: challenges and prospects. Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 21(3):277-86.

Bundy JG, Davey MP, Viant, MR. 2009. Environmental Metabolomics: A Critical Review and Future Perspectives. Metabolomics 5: 3-21.

Morrison N, Bearden D, Bundy JG, Collette T, Currie F, Davey MP, et. al. 2007. Standard Reporting Requirements for Samples in Metabolomics Experiments: Environmental Context. Metabolomics 3: 203-210.


Other research outputs

Metapolish - the merging, annotation & polishing tool for metabolite peak list data: https://github.com/AndreHolzer/Metapolish


Selected Presentations

2023:  Scientific Committee of Antarctic Research (SCAR) Biology congress – New Zealand (presentation given by A. Thomson my PDRA as unable to attend)

2023:  EU EnhanceMicroAlgae Conference. Manchester University

2023: UKRI NERC Advanced Training course in Multi-Omics. Keynote Speaker. Liverpool University

2023:   Newcastle University Marine Biology Seminar series

2023:   RSS Sir David Attenborough Research ship, Antarctica, on-board research talk series.

2022:   International Snow Algae Meeting, Prague

2022:   UK Polar Network annual meeting, Edinburgh.

2022:   University of Derby Geological Society

2021:   UK Space Labs annual meeting

2021:   UK Polar Network annual meeting

2021:   British Phycological Society – main meeting, online

2020:   Metabolomics Society – main international meeting, online

2020:   Indian National Young Academy of Science (INYAS) conference, online

2020:   3rd International Snow Algae Meeting, online

2019:   Departmental seminar series: University of East Anglia, University of Aberdeen

2017:   SCAR Biology meeting, Polar Biology, Ghent, Belgium

2018:   Scientific Committee of Antarctic Research (SCAR) Polar2018 congress – Davos, Switzerland

2018:   2nd International Snow Algae Meeting – Fraunhofer, Germany

2017:   Leeds University (Departmental Seminar Series)

2016: Environmental Genomics and Metabolomics (NERC training), Birmingham (keynote speaker)

2016:   NERC Renewable Energy Conference, QEII Conference Centre, Westminster

2015:   Bio-cosmetics from Desert Plants. Kew Gardens, UK.

2015:   Royal Society – Understanding Plasticity in Marine Microbial Ecosystems. UK.

2015:   International Environmental ‘Omics Synthesis Conference. St Andrews. UK.

2015:   Methods in Ecology and Evolution Journal Symposium. Environmental Metabolomics.

2015:   Algae Around the World Symposium. Polar Algae Physiology. (main organiser)

2013:   University of Manchester, UK. (Departmental Seminar Series)

2011:   Royal Society – Frontiers of Science. Chicheley Hall. UK. Synthetic biology and algal fuels.



Lecturing at SAMS UHI

BSc (Hons) Marine Science: Marine Biotechnology (metabolomics and chemometrics) - Lecturer

BSc (Hons) Marine Science: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (metabolomics) - Lecturer

BSc (Hons) Marine Science: Marine Resources (algal resources for biotechnology) - Lecturer

ACES+ MSc: Algal Biotechnology and Metabolomics - Lecturer

MSc Algal Biotechnology: Algal Biotechnology and Bioeconomy - Programme Leader 

MSc Algal Biotechnology: Algal Scale up and Processing - Module Leader

MSc Algal Biotechnology: Dissertation - Module Leader

MSc Algal Biotechnology: Genomics and Metabolomics in Algal Biotechnology - Co-Module Leader

MSc Algal Biotechnology: Key Skills in Phycology - Lecturer


Lecturing on external programmes

2023-2025: Programme Leader: EU EIT Food INSPIRE Restorative Aquaculture Autumn School, partners at University of Cambridge and Polish Academy of Sciences https://learning.eitfood.eu/our-courses/inspire-restorative-aquaculture/

2023-2025: Programme Leader: EIT Food Algal biotechnology – techniques for the sustainable bioeconomy, partners at University of Cambridge, Matis Iceland, Fraunhofer Germany. https://learning.eitfood.eu/our-courses/algae-biotechnology/

2011-present: Bioinformatics Training (University of Cambridge) Course Leader: “Introduction to metabolomics”. https://www.training.cam.ac.uk/bioinformatics/course/bioinfo-metaintro


Other teaching responsibilities

2021-present: Programme Leader MSc Algal Biotechnology and Bioeconomy SAMS-UHI. https://www.uhi.ac.uk/en/courses/msc-algal-biotechnology-and-bioeconomy/

2020-2022: Internal independent thesis committee advisor (SAMS-UHI) for two PhD students

2020: Internal PhD examiner (SAMS/UHI):  Alessandro Laudicella. Does Fat Matter? Lipidomics investigations during Blue mussel (Mytilus sp.) hatchery production

2021:   External PhD examiner (Simon Fraser University, Canada; University of Edinburgh; University of Strathclyde)

Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) for SAMS-UHI students

I also provide guest lectures to a number of University courses in the UK such as Edge Hill and the University of Cambridge.


Current research students 



Alumni research students 

Ellen Harrison: Sustainable natural production of vitamins for human consumption in long space missions using synthetic ecology approaches. PhD 2018, University of Cambridge – SCK - ESA MELiSSA space project (led by Prof Alison Smith and Dr Natalie Leys)

Sam Coffin: Polar algae – exploiting cold tolerant phenotypes in polar diatoms for increased growth and metabolite production. PhD 2017, University of Cambridge and BAS - Cambridge Earth System Science NERC DTP (led by Prof Alison Smith and Prof Melody Clarke)

Carl Barker: Native Lime Tree Comparative Metabolomics. PhD 2017, Edge Hill University (led by Dr Paul Hill)

Rachel George: Metabolomics of coastal plant communities. PhD 2014, Sheffield University (led by Prof. Rob Freckleton)

Supervised 60 undergraduate Natural Science Tripos students from various Cambridge colleges for the part IA (year 1) Physiology of Organisms course and the part IB (year 2) Plant and Microbial Sciences course. Responsible for choosing discussion topics, setting and marking essays and engaging the students in free thinking about the scientific content and relevance of the course. Provided feedback of each student’s progress to their Director of Studies


Expert advice to regulators / government

2021-present: European Space Agency Lunar Bioscience/Biomission Topical Team Leader for Algal Biology

2020-2021: UK Space LABS advisory paper on Why Space? The opportunity for Health and Life Science Innovation

2020-2021: COP-26 Earth Observation briefing document

2020: European Algal Biomass Association and EU Commission Position Paper “What are Algae?” https://www.what-are-algae.com/

2020-present: UK (BIS) and EU standards organisation (CEN) membership of BSI technical committee EH/3/-/5 “Algae and Algae Products”. UK (BIS) and EU standards organisation (CEN), in collaboration with BIS, EABA, industry and academia wanted to “provide clear and standardised terms and definitions for algae and algae products, thus removing any ambiguity or misunderstanding in the sector. The standard not only contributes to improving communication within the sector, but also reach further, as standardized terms and definitions can also form the basis for legislation.” The release is here: https://www.cencenelec.eu/News/Brief_News/Pages/TN-2020-023.aspx https://shop.bsigroup.com/ProductDetail?pid=000000000030393245

2018:   UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), UK Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), BBSRC PHYCONET, University of Cambridge. Importing algae from outside the EU – clarifying UK legal requirements for the algal biotechnology industry


Outreach & public engagement

2023:   Antarctica – outreach phone calls live from Antarctica and follow up sessions with UK Primary Schools. Local primary school visit to SAMS on polar biology

2023:   Business Insider article: https://www.businessinsider.com/glacier-algae-could-be-trouble-photos-show-2023-1

2022: Key Stage 5 School STEM content development for snow algae biology and remote sensing. SAMS OEC STEM project.

2022: Key Stage 5 School STEM content development for snow algae biology and remote sensing. SAMS OEC STEM project.

2020:     Vast amount of international coverage on Antarctic snow algae mapping: https://www-altmetric-com.ezp.lib.cam.ac.uk/details/82380850/news   https://www.cam.ac.uk/stories/antarctica-turning-green


2018:   Financial Times https://www.ft.com/video/5f7fa3dc-6a57-4590-89b6-00ee5d713241


2018:   Cambridge University Botanic Garden – Science on Sundays - snow algae and biotechnology

2018:    Royal Society - Primary School Partnership Outreach Grant – Antarctic and UK Biodiversity

2017:   Cambridge Independent Newspaper: http://www.cambridgeindependent.co.uk/business/science/cambridge-researcher-dr-matt-davey-on-how-algae-could-be-used-for-energy-healthcare-and-monitoring-penguins-from-space-1-5092478

2017:   BBC Natural History Unit – snow algae and Lithops biology

2015:    British Antarctic Survey – school visits - talked about my research trip to Antarctica, plus live school talks whilst working in Antarctica, published in local and national media


Professional memberships

Royal Society of Biology (Member)

British Ecological Society 1999-present

British Phycological Society 2019-present

2007 - 2016:    Plant Environmental Physiology Group (British Ecological Society) – Chair

2004 - 2009:    British Ecological Society (BES) – Meetings Committee and Overseas grants panel

2020-present: UKRI NERC CCAP facility (hosted at SAMS) science advisory board. https://www.ccap.ac.uk/



2017 – 2021:   NERC NBAF/NEOF steering committee member (Metabolomics, Genomics)

2016 – 2017:   Department of Plant Sciences Teaching Committee

2014 - 2020:    University of Cambridge, Impact and Enterprise Champion

2014 – 2017:   Local Authority Primary School Governor / Chair of Grants Committee

2012 - 2016:    University of Cambridge, Departmental Energy Champion – Carbon Reduction Board

2011 - 2017:    University of Cambridge, Interviewer for undergraduate admissions, Corpus Christi College

2010 - 2012:    University of Cambridge, Department of Plant Sciences Research Associate Staff Representative

2007 - 2016:    Plant Environmental Physiology Group (British Ecological Society) - Chair

2004 - 2009:    British Ecological Society (BES) – Meetings Committee and Overseas grants panel


Other professional responsibilities 

2015 - 2019:      Associate editor of European Journal of Phycology

2012 - 2018:      Associate editor of Methods in Ecology and Evolution

2011 - 2016:      Associate editor of Conservation Physiology

2010 - 2018:      Research Associate of Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge

1999 - present: British Ecological Society (BES)


Relevant research expeditions

Led and completed an Antarctic science research expedition, which was the first large terrestrial/coastal biology expedition to be supported by the new UKRI BAS Sir David Attenborough (SDA) ship. This was from early December 2022 to early March 2023. I led an expedition of 5 people (2 PDRA, 1 PhD, 1 field guide) and working in collaboration with BAS, UK and the Chilean Antarctic Division INACH. The expedition was partly on-board the new SDA ship leaving the Falkland Island in December and after resupplies and training in Antarctica it inputted us on the remote Robert Island, Antarctic Peninsula for 2 months, supported by an INACH hut and 2 INACH field staff. The SDA collecting us and the samples in late February 2023 and we are now in the process of analysing the samples and data collected. This was the first large terrestrial science expedition supported by the SDA. The science consisted of microbial, plant sampling on land and ice, using a number of field techniques including the latest drone technology and gas exchange measurement equipment.

2022/23: Antarctica research expedition - NERC Research Grant. Snow algae. This was the first large terrestrial/coastal biology expedition to be supported by the new UKRI BAS Sir David Attenborough (SDA) ship. Leading an expedition of 5 people (2 PDRA, 1 PhD, 1 field guide) and working in collaboration with BAS, UK and the Chilean Antarctic Division INACH. The expedition was partly on-board the new SDA ship leaving the Falkland Island in December and after resupplies and training in Antarctica it inputted us on the remote Robert Island, Antarctic Peninsula for 2 months, supported by an INACH hut and 2 INACH field staff. This was the first large terrestrial science expedition supported by the SDA. The science consisted of microbial, plant sampling on land and ice, using a number of field techniques including the latest drone technology and gas exchange measurement equipment.

2018: Portugal A4F. 2 weeks. Algal biotechnology DEMA EU research grant.

2018 – 2019: Iceland – Matis algal biotechnology training delivery, regular visits. EU EIT Food.

2017:   Antarctica research expedition - Leverhulme Research Grant. Snow algae – are they the most abundant photosynthetic organisms in terrestrial Antarctica?

2014:   Antarctica research expedition - British Antarctic Survey – Collaborative Gearing Scheme. Metabolic characteristics of terrestrial algae and plants in Antarctica – research visit to Antarctica.

2010-2018: International Short Courses Environmental Field Techniques for Scaling Molecular Physiology to Leaf and Crop Canopy (Portugal). NERC Advanced Training/BES/SEB/Industry funding



Shortlisted for the University of Cambridge Vice-Chancellor’s Impact Awards and Public Engagement with Research

TWO Blue Peter badges (1980s)

Employment history

May 2020–present: Senior Lecturer. SAMS, UK

2013-2020: Senior Research Associate. University of Cambridge, UK: Co-Investigator and Coordinator of main Leverhulme Trust funded project titled “Snow algae – are they the most abundant photosynthetic organisms in terrestrial Antarctica? Ecology and remote sensing of snow algae”. Designed three Antarctic expeditions.    Wide range of ecological, biochemical and innovative research and training projects from EU (EnAlgae, DEMA, EIT-Food) and UKRI (BBSRC and NERC BIVs/GCRF/BAS) funding.   Metabolomics and Algal Innovation Centre core facility manager

2016-2017: Teaching Associate: Co-ordinated supervisions for Plant and Microbial Sciences (PMS) students; Practical organiser for 1B PMS RuBisCO phenotyping course and NIAB field trips. Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, UK

2009-2012: Post-Doctoral Research Associate - Algal research into bioenergy. University of Cambridge, UK: 

2005-2009: Post-Doctoral Research Associate - Environmental metabolomics – phenotyped individual populations of Arctic-Alpine plants grown in controlled and field environments. University of Sheffield, UK

2003-2004: Assistant Scientific Officer - Investigated metabolic variation in two natural systems; N deposition and uptake in upland grasslands and the elemental controls of leaf decomposition. Elemental and stable isotope analysis of field samples for C and N sequestration studies. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bangor, UK

1998 – 1999: Research assistant - Herbicide efficacy testing for industrial clients - established field trials; data analysis

 Crop maintenance in temperate and tropical glasshouse facilities University of Wales, Bangor, UK


Education qualifications

2004 PhD in Plant Ecophysiology and Biochemistry (NERC-CEH CASE studentship) 'The effect of an elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration on secondary metabolism and resource allocation in Plantago maritimaand Armeria maritima,Durham University

1997 Distinction - Comparative Zoology and Conservation Biology (ERASMUS studentship) - University of Umeå, Sweden, Department of Ecology and Environmental Science

1995-1998 BSc. (Hons) Biology -  University of Wales, School of Biological Sciences, Bangor, UK (Hons. Effect of Nitrogen Oxides on Deschampsia flexuosa physiology)


Research group members and collaborators











Jenny Black (Enterprise)

Helen Bury (MSc coodindator)

I have over 20 years’ experience working on algal and plant physiology research and education projects and have extensive knowledge of the international algal biotechnology sector. I work closely with industry, from micro-SMEs to multinational companies, and government in the algal biotechnology, bioenergy, bioremediation, nutraceutical, metabolomics, education and ecology sector. I have worked on numerous consultancy projects and contributed to expert advice in this sector.

I have extensive experience in project management and polar science expedition planning. I also lead the EU EIT-Food international algae biotechnology training courses across Europe. I was an Enterprise and Impact Champion at the University of Cambridge for 6 years before joining SAMS.