A life under the ocean wave: Nick gains his doctorate

A life under the ocean wave: Nick gains his doctorate

Old Elizabethan academic and marine biologist Nick Jones has completed his PhD in Florida, awarded for his research into coral reefs.

His work on understanding the future prospects of the reefs has been presented at international conferences and published in international journals.

Nick (OE 1997–2004) now lectures at Florida’s Nova Southeastern University and mentors Master’s students, having made the USA his home.

“As a field-based researcher, much of my time is spent underwater and over the last few years I’ve been lucky to study coral reefs throughout Florida, in the Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Mexico,” he says.

After QE, Nick spent a gap year in Australia before returning to read Marine Biology at Southampton.

When he graduated, he was offered a scholarship to study coral reefs at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science. This led to his working abroad for several years, studying coral reefs and sharks, before he returned to the UK to work for the Environment Agency.

In 2015, Nick decided to get back into academia and pursue his interest in coral reef ecosystems. “I enrolled in a Master’s at Nova Southeastern University, where my research focused on the impact of temperature on the coral reef communities. After completion, I decided to continue my research in Florida and undertake a PhD.

“I assessed how community dynamics and coral demographics (e.g., growth, recruitment, mortality rates) are influenced by global stressors (e.g., ocean warming, hurricane activity) and local anthropogenic pressures (e.g., nutrient pollution, increased sedimentation from coastal construction) to understand their recovery potential and viability under climate change.”

It is the results of this work that have been presented at conferences and published, including being featured in the National Climate Change Assessment produced by the US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration .

“In addition to research, I give lectures in marine biology, community ecology and biostatistics, as well as mentoring multiple Master’s students, helping them with experimental design, technical writing and data analysis. I live in Hollywood, Florida, situated between Miami and Fort Lauderdale.”

He remains grateful to his teachers at QE who helped prepare him for his career.

  • The main picture, top, shows Nick conducting an underwater survey in Florida. The laboratory shot shows him preparing a coral sample for an experiment, while the bottom photograph is Nick assessing a reef in Mexico.