Plymouth Pioneers - Professor Kerry Howell

Kerry Howell, Professor of Deep-Sea Ecology, has a global reputation for providing critical evidence and innovation solutions for the protection of deep-sea habitats. She heads the Deep Sea Conservation Unit, leads or co-leads a number of international initiatives and frequently sees her work embedded in conservation policies around the world.

Diving deep for marine conservation

Kerry’s research was the first to demonstrate the usefulness of habitat mapping and modelling in the network design and assessment of deep-sea marine protected areas.

Her work has direct impact, such as informing the EU’s ban on bottom trawling below 800m and an improved system for deep-sea habitat mapping and classification that was adopted by the UK Government and across Europe. Through the EU H2020 Mission Atlantic project, Kerry is innovatively testing whether artificial intelligence can effectively identify species from deep-sea images and video to potentially speed up the rate of data gathering, while informing spatial management and decision-making.

Thought leadership

What has the deep sea ever done for me?

Many people care about the bottom of the ocean, finding it mysterious, exciting, and – thanks to programmes like Blue Planet 2 – its beauty has been revealed. But most people don’t understand why they should care. Read more about the deep sea

Championing international deep-sea collaboration

Kerry co-coordinates Challenger 150, a deep-sea science programme responding to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development to greatly advance discovery in remote regions across 17 countries. This global co-operative of science and innovation will inform understanding of how deep-sea changes impact the wider ocean and our planet as a whole, while building capacity and diversity in the global deep-sea scientific community. 

She also co-leads the £4 million research programme focused on offshore marine resources within the £20 million, UKRI GCRF One Ocean Hub programme. It has 24 research partners and 35 partner organisations, working with South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Seychelles, Fiji, Solomon Island and the Caribbean.

The person behind the pioneer

More than 70% of our planet is ocean – and 90% of that ocean is deep sea.

Read more about Professor Kerry Howell

THE Impact Logo, life below water

World number one for marine impact 2021

We are ranked first out of 379 institutions worldwide against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal number 14: life below water.
The award recognises the quality of our marine research and teaching as well as our efforts to reduce the impact of campus activities on the marine environment. The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings are the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The deep seas and seabed are increasingly being used by society, and they are seen as a potential future asset for the resources they possess including as a source of food, fuel, raw materials and medicines. But managing these resources sustainably requires that we first understand deep-sea ecosystems and their role in our planet, its people and its atmosphere.

Professor Kerry Howell

Home of marine

Our marine and maritime excellence in world-leading research informs policy agendas for the sustainable management of ocean resources. Our work has significantly improved how to forecast extreme coastal events and their impact on communities. We were the first to study the ecological effects of ocean acidification, and now lead the UK agenda for offshore renewable energy. On national and international levels, we have influenced key policies, conservation practices, responses to climate change, public perception of marine issues, and are defining the pathways toward tangible solutions.
The culture of close collaboration across the city with researchers, policymakers, and local businesses has resulted in Plymouth’s nomination for the UK’s first National Marine Park – an initiative underpinned by research at the University.
Underwater bubbles