Isabelle Firth

Isabelle Firth


I hold both a BSc Marine Biology (Honours) followed by an MSc Applied Aquatic Biology, from the University of Portsmouth. During these years I developed a primary interest in environmental microbiology, particularly the juxtaposition between microbes coexisting with larger, complex marine organisms. A theme clearly pronounced within my undergraduate research: Exploring the presence of microbes on the survivability rate of Loggerhead sea turtle eggs. This project was in collaboration with Wildlife Sense (Kefalonia, Greece) and funded through the Erasmus+ programme.

My MSc thesis titled: Marine biofilms on stainless steel – exploring temporal changes in the bacterial community composition of early biofilm development, enabled further understanding of marine biofilms and their role in environmental issues such as biocorrosion and biofouling.

Post-studies, I have broadened my industry experience by taking on various laboratory roles within the private sector, including the development of a PCR skillset during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the detection of environmental bacteria and parasite groups within water samples through assays and microscopy.

In the lead up to my PhD, I participated in DARPA (US Defence) funded research at the University of Essex, investigating hypothesis-driven biofilm communities through bioimaging techniques and additionally their role in barnacle larval settlement and metamorphosis.

Isabelle Firth

PhD title: "Studying relationships at biological interfaces through directed assembly of marine biofilm communities"

Many sessile and gregarious marine invertebrates (e.g., crustaceans, molluscs and cnidaria) depend on a planktonic larval stage within their lifecycle, to enter the water column and search for a suitable surface to settle and metamorphose into their adult form. These surfaces are covered in communities of microorganisms, termed biofilms.

This research will focus on the interactions between invertebrate larvae and biofilms, investigating if specific bacterial taxa present within the biofilms prevent or accelerate the settlement and metamorphosis of different larvae. The invertebrates chosen will have environmental significance such as key biofouling species found in the maritime and aquaculture industries or have a large ecological significance such as reef-building corals.

Other information

During my time with Wildlife Sense in 2018, I held the role of Research Assistant aiding the conservation efforts of sea turtles in Kefalonia and returned to Volunteer in 2021.