I graduated in Marine Biology from University of Wales, Swansea, and then completed a PhD on the life histories of marine invertebrates under the supervision of Paul Tyler. I moved to a NERC postdoctoral fellowship at Newcastle University's marine laboratory, then after further postdoctoral posts at Durham and Hull, moved to UEA in 1989.

I am currently Academic Director of the UEA Doctoral College, responsible for Postgraduate Research Students across the University. Prior to that I was Associate Dean for Postgraduate Research in the Faculty of Science. While at UEA, have (at various times) been Director of Finance, Director of Enterprise and Deputy Head of the School of Environmental Sciences, and Director of the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation (CEEC - 

My recent paper, The reproduction number R for COVID-19 in England: Why hasn′t ″lockdown″ been more effective? medRxiv, provides a simple approximation to estimate R, the reproduction number, from time series of numbers of COVID-19 cases or deaths. For England as a whole, and for English regions, R values have been only a little below 1 since mid-April 2020. The data indicate that COVID-19 transmission had reduced substantially before the compulsory restrictions on activity usually referred to as "lockdown" and suggest that transmission since then has occurred primarily between a relatively small proportion of the population who have large numbers of close contacts, in workplaces, residential care or through activities that were officially prohibited during the period examined.

A previous paper, Dynamics of COVID-19 epidemics: SEIR models underestimate peak infection rates and overestimate epidemic duration, medRxiv 2020/050674 highlights a serious problem with the use of compartment models, such as SEIR, to forecast the dynamics of epidemics like COVID-19. These models, which are used by the great majority of published papers modelling the COVID-19 epidemic, substantially underestimate peak infection rates, and severely overestimate the time that it takes for infection rates to reduce after social distancing measures are introduced or the majority of the population acquires immunity.

In connection with this work, I have been carrying out regular analyses of publicly available daily data on incidence of COVID-19. I have made some analysis of data for from the 4th and 6th July release here, and will provide updated analyses at regular intervals.

My recent contribution to the debate about environmental risks from microplastic particles is available here:

Current research students: Hussein Aldosari, Areej AlKhalifa, Gallab Alotaibi, Solomon Udochi and Sophy Mccully (Cefas)

Personal Website:

  • Research opportunities

I always welcome email enquiries from potential PhD students. I would be particularly keen to recruit someone to work on pollution tolerant populations or communities, but will seriously consider applicants wanting to work on one of my other areas of interest.  I am unlikely to have any studentship funding available in 2020, but will help with applications for external funding - recent PhD students have been funded by Commonwealth University fellowships, the Ford Foundation and studentships from their home countries.

  • PhD Positions in School of Environmental Sciences

Click here for a list of current PhD opportunities in the School of Environmental Sciences.


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