Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Dr Matthew Davey

Research interests:

I am an algal physiologist and ecologist. My key interests are in understanding the diversity of metabolism in natural ecosystems and controlled environments and how such knowledge can be translated for innovation purposes by collaborating with industrial partners involved in biotechnology, bioenergy and natural high value products.

I have carried out research and supervision on a wide range of algal topics from the ecology of snow algae in Antarctica, remote sensing polar algae blooms, using algae for bioenergy, bioremediation, pigments and food production on earth across all continents to exploiting algae to help astronauts on long term space missions. I also lead the EU EIT-Food international algae biotechnology training courses across Europe.

My new Algal Metabolic Ecology group will study aspects of functional interactions between microbial biodiversity, biochemistry and environmental change. This will require a mix of traditional and contemporary field-based techniques and experimental systems in the laboratory. The main themes of this group are: Environmental Metabolomics and Physiology – discovering metabolic traits associated with cold tolerance, the role of metabolic plasticity in responding to environmental and climate change, the distribution of metabolic traits across populations, and Algal Biotechnology and Innovation – exploring novel sources of sustainable biomaterials, nutrients, high value products, feedstocks and bioenergy.

Career history:

Employment history

May 2020–present: Senior Lecturer. SAMS, UK

2013-present: Senior Research Associate. University of Cambridge, UK

2016-2017: Teaching Associate. Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, UK

2009-2012: Post-Doctoral Research Associate. University of Cambridge, UK

2005-2009: Post-Doctoral Research Associate. University of Sheffield, UK

2003-2004: Assistant Scientific Officer. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bangor, UK

1998 – 1999: Research assistant. University of Wales, Bangor, UK

Education qualifications

2004 PhD in Plant Ecophysiology and Biochemistry (NERC-CEH CASE studentship) – Durham University

1997 Distinction – Comparative Zoology and Conservation Biology (ERASMUS studentship) – University of Umeå, Sweden, Department of Ecology and Environmental Science

1995-1998 BSc. (Hons) Biology – University of Wales, School of Biological Sciences, Bangor, UK

Active research projects:

Current projects

SAGA: The past, present and future of snow algae in Antarctica: a threatened terrestrial ecosystem?

Funder: NERC Standard Grant Start & end date: 2021-2024

Sustainable inks – a broad brush approach to screen for vibrant algal pigments:

Funder: BBSRC Algae-UK NIBB Start & End date: 2020-2021

Metabolic mapping to understand and improve the production of omega-3 in algae (led by Prof Alison Smith, Cambridge):

Funder: BBSRC Algae-UK NIBB Start & End date: 2020-2021

Selected past projects I developed, coordinated and/or managed

The Circular Economy of Fruits and Vegetable Supply in Eastern Africa

Funder: The Royal Society International Collaboration Awards, 2019-20.
Capacity building in Ghana for cultivation of high value compound producing microorganisms

Funder: Cambridge-Africa ALBORADA Research Fund, 2020
Novel approaches for valorisation of crop waste to new products and processes in Ghana

Funder: UK Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) , 2019-2021
MELiSSA ESA space programme on food sustainability

Funder: European Space Agency – MELiSSA , 2018-2022
Snow algae communities and remote sensing at King George Island, Antarctica research expedition

Funder: Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH) support, 2018-2019
Snow algae – are they the most abundant photosynthetic organisms in terrestrial Antarctica?

Funder: Leverhulme Research Grant, 2017-2020
Determining the diversity of vitamin-producing bacteria in Antarctic snow algal communities

Funder: BAS Innovation and Impact Collaboration Award, 2017
Undiscovered High Value Products from Polar Algae

Funder: NERC IAA Knowledge Exchange Award – British Antarctic Survey, 2014
Metabolic characteristics of terrestrial algae and plants in Antarctica – research visit to Antarctica

Funder: British Antarctic Survey – Collaborative Gearing Scheme, 2014
British Antarctic Survey. Exploring and exploiting metabolic diversity in polar algae

Funder: NERC IAA Knowledge Exchange Award, 2013

Training, Innovation and Policy
Algal biotechnology – techniques for the sustainable bioeconomy

Funder: EIT-Food, 2018-20
Playground to Polar – Comparing Antarctic and UK Biodiversity

Funder: Primary School Partnership Outreach Grant, 2018
Consortium on Algal Biotechnology for Bioeconomy-Driven Future

Funder: British Council – Turkey, 2018
Implementing Algebra guidelines to risk assessments of scale-up of non-native species

Expanding the range of algal species suitable for membrane harvesting

Batch scale cultivation of non-UK native tropical marine diatoms

Funder: BBSRC – PHYCONET NIBB, 2017-2018
Increasing algal growth and harvesting efficiency in glasshouses

Research Grade Algae – a supply bottleneck in algal research

Funder: BBSRC – PHYCONET NIBB, 2015-2016
Agri-Inno: Stimulating Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Egypt’s Agricultural Sector

Funder: BBSRC Impact Acceleration Award Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), 2017
Scoping a new collaborative and training networks in microbial and invertebrate biotechnology and ‘omics’ in Malaysia

Funder: NERC-GCRF-BAS International Development Innovation and Impact Award, 2017
Importing non-native algae – clarifying UK legal requirements for the biotechnology industry

Environmental Field Techniques for Scaling Molecular Physiology to Leaf and Crop Canopy (Portugal)

Funder: NERC Advanced Training: International Short Courses, 2014-2016
Bio-cosmetics from Lithops

Funder: BBSRC NIBB High Value Chemicals from Plants, 2015
Algal Biorefinery and AD: routes for energy and nutrient recovery

Funder: NERC AB-SIG SPARK PLUS, 2014-2015

Development of the Algal Innovation Centre, University of Cambridge

Funder: EnAlgae and Cambridge University, 2015

This unique facility in the UK allow us to study non-native algal species for ecological and biotechnological purposes at a much larger and controlled scale
Plant and Algal Growth Facility energy saving and LED light conversion projects

Funder: Cambridge University Energy and Carbon Reduction Project, 2014

Recent publications:

Gray A, Krolikowski M, Fretwell P, Convey P, Peck LS, Mendelova M, Smith AG, Davey MP. 2020. Remote sensing reveals Antarctic green snow algae as important terrestrial carbon sink. Nature Communications.

Wangpraseurt D, You S, Azam F, Jacucci G, Gaidarenko O, Hildebrand M, Kühl M, Smith AG, Davey MP, Deheyn DD, Chen S, Vignolini S. 2019. Bionic 3D printed corals. Nature Communications.

Reynolds S, Davey MP, Aldridge D. 2019. Harnessing Synthetic Ecology for high value algae production. Nature Scientific Reports. 9 (1), 9756

Buayam N, Davey MP, Smith AG, Pumas C. 2019. Effects of Copper and pH on the Growth and Physiology of Desmodesmus sp. AARLG074 Metabolites 9 (5), 84

Davey MP, Norman L, Sterk P, Huete‐Ortega M, Bunbury F, Kin Wai Loh B, Stockton S, Peck LS, Convey P, Newsham KK, Smith AG. 2019. Snow algae communities in Antarctica – metabolic and taxonomic composition. New Phytologist. 222 (3), 1242-1255

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