Sue-Ann Watson

I was born near London in England, quite far from the sea and even further from coral reefs. But I’ve always loved being in, on and by the ocean. I studied biology at the University of Nottingham to gain a broad background in biological sciences and by my second year I knew I wanted to focus on the ocean and become a marine biologist. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I moved to Southampton on the south coast of England where I studied for a Master’s degree in oceanography at the National Oceanography Centre, with a special research project on deep-sea biology. Fascinated by the secrets of the ocean, I gained a place on a research ship to investigate the unknown deep-sea creatures of the Indian Ocean. It was a real privilege to be a part of new scientific discoveries and to encounter species of the deep that no-one had ever seen before, such as giant purple sea cucumbers.

I continued at Southampton for my doctorate degree, and also teamed up with the British Antarctic Survey. My research focus moved from the deep oceans to the shallow seas, as I investigated patterns in shellfish evolution from the polar oceans to the tropics. I became particularly interested in studies that would help us understand the effects of global change on marine organisms, so I could help conserve marine ecosystems and ensure their continuance into the future in our rapidly changing world. I am really fortunate to have explored a range of marine habitats around the world and to have worked with many different people along the way.