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Professor Alex Ford

Professor of Biology

Alex Ford


I studied Biological Sciences as an undergraduate at Plymouth University (1993-1996), followed by an MSc in Environmental Biology at University of Wales Swansea (1997). After spells working as a Nature Conservation Officer, Pollution Control Officer and Turtle Biologist, I settled down to a Senior Research Assistant post back in Wales (Swansea University 1991-2001) where I worked on a large European funded project identifying and mapping the epibenthic diversity of the North Sea. A PhD followed at Napier University (Edinburgh) investigating the effects of pollution on the endocrine systems of crustaceans (2001-2004).

On completion of my PhD I spent two and a half years lecturing at Napier University (2004-2007) followed by a Senior Research Fellowship post at the UHI Millennium Institute (2007-2008) based in Thurso (N. Scotland). I joined the School of Biological Sciences at Portsmouth University in August 2008 as a Senior Lecturer in Marine Zoology and became a Reader in Biology in 2012 and a Professor of Biology in 2016.

Research Interests

My research focuses mainly on marine ecology and ecotoxicology. I have particular interests in the diversity and evolution of different reproductive systems found within the Crustacea and what happens when sex determination or sexual differentiation ‘goes wrong’ resulting in intersexuality and gymandromorphism. Ecotoxicological studies have focused particularly on how novel compounds (endocrine disrupters; nanoparticles; pharmaceuticals) may impact marine invertebrates.

I have a keen interest in marine parasitology and wonderful ways in which parasites and pollution can alter the physiology, morphology, sex and behaviour of marine organisms. More recently, utilising high-throughput gene sequencing technologies (Roche 454; ABI SOLID & Illumina), I have been awarded a Natural Environmental Research Grant (NERC) grant to identify the genes associated with sexual differentiation in amphipods and investigate what genes are being “switched on or off” if a parasite and/or pollution causes a crustacean to changes sex. This has enabled follow on grants to look at the impact of novel environmental pollutants (antidepressants) and how they impact aquatic crustaceans.

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