Dr Sofia C Franco

        Head and shoulder photo of Dr Sofia Franco

Lecturer in Aquaculture Governance and Innovation

I am a biologist interested in sustainable aquaculture and working across disciplines to support evidence-based policy and innovation.

My research focuses on aquaculture diversification, governance, perception of aquaculture and improving communication between researchers, industry and the public.

Contact details:

Sustainable aquaculture development, through an ecosystem approach to aquaculture, is dependent on assuring that applied research informs evidence-based policy and innovation, through effective collaboration and communication between stakeholders. My research interests focus on enabling this transition and ranges from aquaculture diversification, to policy and marine spatial planning, understanding public perception of aquaculture and pathways to improve communication between researchers, industry and public.

I have experience working in marine policy contexts, for the Marine Management Organisation and European Commission, and, as a NERC-BBSRC Knowledge Exchange Fellow in Aquaculture, I provide expert input to the UK aquaculture sector and contribute to the Aquaculture Initiative. I have extensive research experience on biofouling, from previous Innovate UK and the Office of Naval Research (USA) projects, and culture of copepods and stalked barnacles, from FCT, PROMAR (Portugal) and ERDF projects. 

I currently lead the Global Food Security project DIVERSEAFOOD (Evaluating the potential of multi-trophic aquaculture to improve nutrition and ecosystem sustainability in the UK) and the N8 project PERCEPT (Towards improved communication in aquaculture: exploring consumers perceptions and attitudes). I am also part of the EU Horizon 2020 project AQUAVITAE (New low trophic species, products and processes in marine aquaculture value chains across the Atlantic).


Current projects

RiseUp: Resilience of the UK seafood system to the COVID-19 disruption. Funded by the ESRC, July 2020 - January 2022

DIVERSEAFOOD: Evaluating the potential of multi-trophic aquaculture to improve nutrition and ecosystem sustainability in the UK. Funded the Global Food Security Programme (BBSRC, NERC and Scottish Government), Mar 2019-Feb 2021. PI

AQUAVITAE: New species, processes and products contributing to increased production and improved sustainability in emerging low trophic, and existing low and high trophic aquaculture value chains in the Atlantic. Funded by EU Horizon 2020. Jun 2019- May 2023. Researcher

Knowledge Exchange Fellowship in Aquaculture. Funded by UK Aquaculture Initiative (BBSRC and NERC). Sep 2016-Jan 2021. Fellow


Highlight past projects

PERCEPT: Towards improved communication in aquaculture: exploring consumers' perceptions and attitudes. Funded by N8 Research Partnership. June 2018-Dec 2019. PI

Identifying evidence needs for modelling and valuing aquaculture potential in marine plan areas. Funded by Valuing Nature Programme (NERC). Apr-Jul 217.

Multi-functional landscapes: making theory practice. Funded by Global Food Security Programme (BBSRC). May-Oct 2017

AQUAPOLLIS+: Aquaculture of stalked barnacles in Portugal. Funded by Alentejo 2020 (ERDF - EU). Apr 2016-May 2019

AQUAPOLLIS: Biological and economic viability of the aquaculture of stalked barnacles. Funded by PROMAR (FCT - Portugal). Jan 2014-Dec 2015

Peer-reviewed publications

Hughes AD, Charalambides G, Franco SC, Robinson G, Tett P (2022) Blue Nitrogen: A Nature-Based Solution in the Blue Economy as a Tool to Manage Terrestrial Nutrient Neutrality. Sustainability 14(16): 10182 https://doi.org/10.3390/su141610182 

Patterson A.L., Wenning B., Rizis G., Calabrese D.R., Finlay J., Franco S.C., Zuckeermann R.N., Clare A.S., Kramer E.J. Ober C.K., Segalman R.A. (2017). Role of backbone chemistry and monomer sequence in amphiphilic oligopeptide- and oligopeptoid-functionalized PDMS- and PEO-based block copolymers for marine antifouling and fouling release coatings. Macromolecules, 50(7): 2656-2667. https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.macromol.6b02505

Kuliasha C., Finlay J.A, Franco S.C., Clare A.S., Stafslien S., Brennan A. (2017) Marine antifouling efficacy of amphiphilic poly(coacrylate) grafted PDMSe: effect of graft molecular weight Biofouling. 33(3): 252-267 https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08927014.2017.1288807

Franco S.C., Augustin, C., Geffen, A.J., Dinis M.T. (2017b) Growth, egg production and hatching success of Acartia tonsa cultured at high densities. Aquaculture, 468(1): 569-578. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.2016.10.044 

Galhenage T.P., Webster D.C., Moreira A.M.S., Burgett R.J., Stafslien S.J., Vanderwal L., Finlay J.A., Franco S.C., Clare A.S. (2017) Poly(ethylene) glycol-modified, amphiphilic, siloxane–polyurethane coatings and their performance as fouling-release surfaces. Journal of Coatings Technology and Research. 14(2): 307-322. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11998-016-9862-9

Franco S.C., Aldred N., Cruz T., Clare A.S. (2017a) Effects of culture conditions on larval growth and survival of stalked barnacles (Pollicipes pollicipes). Aquaculture Research, 48(6): 2920-2933. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/are.13125

Galhenage T. P., Hoffman D., Silbert S. D., Stafslien S. J., Daniels J., Miljkovic T., Finlay J.A., Franco S.C., Clare A.S., Nedved B.T., Hadfield M.G., Wendt D.D., Waltz G., Brewer L., Teo S.L.M., Lim C.S., Webster D.C. (2016). Fouling-release performance of silicone oil-modified siloxane-polyurethane coatings. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. 8(42): 29025-29036 https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsami.6b09484 

Damon C.A., Gatley C.M., Beres J.J., Finlay J.A., Franco S.C., Clare A.S., Detty M.R. (2016) The performance of hybrid titania/silica-derived xerogels as active antifouling/fouling-release surfaces against the marine alga Ulva linza: in situ generation of hypohalous acid. Biofouling. 32(8): 883-896. https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08927014.2016.1203420

Franco S.C., Aldred N., Cruz T., Clare A.S.  (2016) Modulation of gregarious settlement of the stalked barnacle, Pollicipes pollicipes: a laboratory study. Scientia Marina, 80(2): 217-228. https://dx.doi.org/10.3989/scimar.04342.01A

Bauer S., Finlay J.A., Thomé I., Nolte, K., Franco S.C., Ralston E., Swain G.E., Clare, A.S., Rosenhahn A. (2016). Attachment of algal cells to zwitterionic self-assembled monolayers comprised of different anionic compounds. Langmuir. 32(22): 5663-5671. https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.langmuir.6b00839

Franco S.C., Aldred N., Sykes A.V., Cruz T., Clare A.S. (2015). The effects of rearing temperature on reproductive conditioning of stalked barnacles (Pollicipes pollicipes). Aquaculture, 448(1): 410-417. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.2015.06.015 


Other publications

Franco 2018. Influencing policy in the European Parliament – A tale of two Brussels. The Bulletin. British Ecological Society (June 2018 edition; Vol 49.2). Available online at: https://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/my-bes/the-bulletin/.

Franco et al. 2015. Stalked barnacles hold aquaculture potential but face bottlenecks. Global Aquaculture Advocate. 18(4): 44-46. Available online at: https://eprint.ncl.ac.uk/file_store/production/214683/3FFEAC91-8D07-4511-A7D3-69F295FD544D.pdf


MSc in Aquaculture, Environment and Society: Module leader 'Governance, Management and Knowledge Exchange'

MSc in Aquaculture, Environment and Society: Guest lecturer 'Environmental Interactions of Aquaculture


Current research students

Bruna Simoes: UK consumers' perceptions and attitudes towards aquaculture. MSc Instituto Politécnico de Leiria, Portugal. 2018-19



Professional memberships

European Aquaculture Society: since 2011

Royal Society of Biology: since 2015

British Ecological Society: since 2017


Public engagement

Organisation and co-chairing of SAIC/ARCH-UK Early-career researchers’ elevator pitches at Aquavation session at UK Aquaculture 2018 (Aviemore). Available online at: https://www.aquaculturehub-uk.com/news/2018/5/21/early-career-researchers-at-aquaculture-uk (programme) and https://www.aquaculturehub-uk.com/#/working-group-8/ (video)

Blog post ‘Policy in the European Parliament’ for the British Ecological Society (2018). Available online at: https://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/policy-european-parliament/.

Infographic ‘Wants & needs of early career researchers working in UK aquaculture’ (2018). Available online at: https://goo.gl/kkVa7C.

Video blog of the placement at the MMO ‘Identifying evidence needs for modelling and valuing aquaculture potential in marine plan areas’ (2017). Available online at: http://valuing-nature.net/blogs.

Management of @AquacultureKE on Twitter and ‘UK Aquaculture industry’ Group on LinkedIn (since 2017).

Organiser and presenting researcher ‘Biofouling research @Newcastle’ at the Great North Sea Science and Technology Exhibition by Newcastle University (2016; Blyth) http://www.tallshipsblyth2016.com

Brilliant Club Tutor delivering the module ‘No more fish in the sea? Fish farming for the future!’ at The Academy at Shotton Hall (2016; Peterlee) www.thebrilliantclub.org

Demonstrator for the Splashdown! Summer school for key stage students at the Dove Marine Laboratory (2014/2015; Cullercoats) www.ncl.ac.uk/marine/outreach/summer/

Participating researcher (and winner) of the online competition ‘I am a scientist, get me out of here!Ecology Zone, which promotes the interaction between pupils and researchers (2013) www.iamascientist.org.uk

Public poster presenter of ‘Aquaculture of stalked barnacles: the challenge of sustainability” in the event Showcase your Science! (2010; Newcastle upon Tyne)


Measures of esteem

Journal reviewer for Marine Policy, Aquaculture, Aquaculture Reports, Journal of Plankton Research, and Aquaculture Research.

Grant reviewer for BBSRC, NERC, GCRF, British Council – Newton Fund, Innovate UK.

Recent non-academic invited talks to the Global Food Security – Programme Coordination Group on ‘Implementing a multifunctional landscape approach in the UK’ (July 2018) and to Seafish – Aquaculture Common Issues Group on ‘Improving the assessment of aquaculture suitability for marine spatial planning’ (April 2018).

Employment history

Since 2018: Lecturer in Aquaculture Governance and Innovation. SAMS

2018: Trainee at DG-MARE A1 'Maritime Innovation, Marine Knowledge and Investment.' Directorate General of Maritime Affaire and Fisheries (DG Mare) - European Commission

2016-18: Knowledge Exchange Fellow in Aquaculture and Research Associate. School of Natural and Environmental Sciences - Newcastle University

2014-16: Research Associate. School of Marine Science and Technology - Newcastle University



2014 PhD Marine Science; 'Aquaculture of stalked barnacles, Pollicipes pollicipes'. Newcastle University

2009 MSc Aquaculture and Fisheries (spec. Aquaculture); 'Effects of stocking density on Acartia tonsa culture'. University of Algarve

2007 BSc Biology (spec. Marine Biology). University of Lisbon