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Gareth Thomas

Gareth ThomasGareth Thomas smiles at the camera



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I recently graduated from the University of Essex with a First Class (Hons) degree in BSc Marine Biology. This included picking up multiple academic awards such as the “Abel-Imray Prize” for most outstanding final year project and the “Alex Boughton Award” for outstanding academic achievements in the field of tropical marine biology. My final year project/dissertation was titled “Influences of Neutral and Niche Processes Across Multiple Habitats”. This involved studying the theoretical mechanics behind wild flower and invertebrate organism’s abundance and distribution across temporal and spatial distances. I also had the pleasure of presenting this work at the British Ecological Societies’ Annual Meeting in December of 2016.

My research interests lie in the fields of ecology, environmental biology and other natural sciences. My most recent endeavour is pursuing my PhD in Environmental Biology at the University of Essex. This involves researching and pursuing efficient bioremediation efforts for oil spills in marine environments; whilst minimising any ecotoxicological effects. My PhD is funded by the National Environmental Research Council (NERC) through the EnvEast Doctoral Training Programme (DTP) and holds a CASE Partnership with the Government’s branch Cefas (Centre for Environmental, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science).


Current Research

“Cleaning up marine oil spills: are dispersants a help or hindrance?”


Crude oil spills are one of the most significant threats to the marine environment and have large impacts on the economy and society.

Dispersants are commonly applied as a remediation strategy to produce small oil droplets that are more readily degraded by indigenous bacteria. However, little is known about how the many different types of dispersants affect the biodegradation rates of various types of crude oils and the oil-degrading microbes responsible for its clean-up. While dispersants can be very effective in crude-oil remediation, there are concerns about their ecological and toxicological impacts.

My PhD will investigate the effects of a range of dispersants on rates of biodegradation of different crude oils, the succession and structure of microbial communities, and the broader ecology of the marine environment.



  • Awarded the Abel-Imray Project Prize: awarded to a 3rd year student for “The Most Outstanding Final Year Project in Environmental Courses”.
  • Awarded the Alex Boughton Prize: awarded to a 2nd Year student for “Outstanding Academic Achievement in the Field of Tropical Marine Biology”.
  • Awarded Academic Excellence Scholarship: throughout UG tenure.
  • Awarded Deans List of Excellence: throughout UG tenure.
  • University of Essex Employability Awards: Bronze, Silver and Gold Levels



I presented a poster for my University of Essex’s final year undergraduate project at the British Ecological Societies’ Annual Meeting in December of 2016. The title of this project and poster was “Influences of Neutral and Niche Processes Across Multiple Habitats”.


Supervisory Team

Dr Boyd McKew            – Primary Supervisor                – University of Essex (Environmental Microbiology Research Group)

Dr Terry McGenity        – Secondary Supervisor            – University of Essex (Environmental Microbiology Research Group)

Jan Brant                      – Secondary Supervisor            – Cefas


Other relevant activities

Previously held a Frontrunner Plus position in Ecological and Evolutionary Fisheries at the University of Essex.

Previously held the position of Faculty Convener for Science and Health at the University of Essex.

Currently an educational volunteer at the Essex Wildlife Trust; since 2014.