Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr Sebastian Hennige

NERC Independent Research Fellow

Profile photo

Willingness to take Ph.D. students: Yes

Current Research Interests


I examine the impact of climate change and pollutants on marine organisms and ecosystems, with particular focus on tropical and cold-water coral reefs. I explore how Past events have impacted upon marine ecosystems and organisms, examine how organisms have adapted to survive in a wide variety of Present day systems, and use aquaria epxeriments to predict how Future projected changes will impact organism fitness. By combining climate research with potential pollution problems, I also investigate how nanoparticles from sunscreen may exacerbate the bleaching response of corals, and whether oil-degrading microbes can still ‘clean up’ oil spills in a future ocean.   


I studied Marine and Environmental Biology at the University of St. Andrews before taking a PhD at the University of Essex examing acclimation and adaptations of corals across environmental gradients. In 2009, I went to the University of Delaware (USA) to research harmful algal bloom photophysiology in a variety of environments, and mechanisms underlying tropical coral bleaching. Following that, I moved to Heriot-Watt University to conduct the first long-term experiments on cold-water corals in a changing ocean. My current NERC Fellowship examines the impact of climate change in tropical and cold-water corals, and my fieldwork throughout my career has included expeditions from the UK and Norway for cold-water corals, to tropical desitnations such as Indonesia and the Maldives.

I was lead editor of a United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity report on ocean acidification, am on the steering group for the MASTS Dynamics and Properties of Marine Systems theme, and am an Editorial Board Member for Nature Scientific Reports.

Research outputs

  1. Cold-water corals in aquaria: advances and challenges. A focus on the Mediterranean

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

  2. The Great Barrier Reef has been bleaching for at least 400 years but it's getting worse

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

View all (38) »

Research activities & awards

  1. Will we lose the reefs of the deep (and how will we know)?

    Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation

  2. Future of our seas: Plymouth

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventPublic Engagement – Festival/Exhibition

View all (10) »

ID: 28361741