Jake Smallbone

Jake Smallbone


As of 2019 I graduated from Bangor University with a MSc in Marine Biology, with my thesis titled “The Current Progression of Invasive Lionfish Across the Cayman Islands”. My main research interests are ecological and physiological aspects of marine ecosystems with interests in ecosystem functioning in association with both anthropogenic and natural environmental issues. I am notably interested in Pelagic and deep-sea ecology which will hopefully be a minor aspect of my PhD research.

Although my past studies have focused on macro ecology I am now moving into Microbial ecology as microbial communities are key to understanding the functioning and health of marine ecosystems further.

Before starting my PhD journey I worked as a Marine Biological Consultant/Researcher for an upcoming Natural History Documentary highlighting the amazing diversity of the Welsh coast, which further drove me to want to contribute to research furthering to protect these magnificent ecosystems.

Through my love of SCUBA diving, I have experienced many exciting aspects of marine life and contributed to various conservation projects, adding to my overall expertise within the field. I believe these experiences will help me further a great career within the marine biological field and I look forward to the challenges I will face ahead.

Jake Smallbone

Ecology and Biodiversity

PhD title: Effects of Dispersants on Mitigating Environmental Impacts of Marine Oil Pollution

Oil spills are one of the most challenging threats to the marine environment that can have long-term impacts on fisheries, the economy and society. Dispersants are commonly applied as a remediation strategy to disperse oil into the water column and produce small oil droplets that are more readily degraded by indigenous oil-degrading bacteria. Whilst dispersants are one of the many tools to prevent coastal contamination, there are concerns they may contribute to the formation of marine oil snow (MOS).  MOS has been speculated to transport oil into the deep sea, potentially damaging benthic ecosystems.

There will be a focus on the microbial communities associated with oil biodegradation and the use of chemical dispersants, along with a focus on the various environmental conditions connected to the natural weathering of oil during an oil spill event. I will also be conducting in situ investigation along side Oil Spill response as to hopefully gain important on-site knowledge of these processes.

This PhD will hopefully lead to a better understanding of how the use of chemical dispersants and MOS formation may impact fragile environments such as deep-sea ecosystems.

Awards and prizes

Tom Dunkley Award (£500 bursary towards equipment and travel costs of MSc Project)

Other information

Currently I am volunteering as an LEO (Local Engagement Officer) for the public engagement and science communication organisation “Plover Rovers” – My role is to help set up events across the English coastal path with the aim of educating our coastal communities on various marine science topics.

I have volunteered a lot of my time providing fieldwork support in various conservation projects and to other MSc student in SCUBA data collection. Ranging for fish population and coral health surveys to behavioural studies on Oceanic Black Tip sharks.