The mission of the SOI is to bring together the people, interdisciplinary skills and supporting scientific services necessary to deliver world-class research in marine sciences. The laboratory has been upgraded with a £16 million investment in aquaria and researcher facilities which will be completed in the early summer of 2019. The scientific staff includes research-active principal investigators, research fellows and assistants, technicians and engineers, PhD and MSc students plus other support staff. SOI hosts the Directorate of the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS), and is a founding partner in the European Marine Biology Resource Centre (EMBRC). Its research programme addresses some of the challenges in marine science of high importance to society at large, including climate change, food security, biodiversity and ecosystem services, marine noise and marine mammal conservation. The SOI has particular enabling strengths in the design and manufacture of animal-borne sensors and instrumentation and in the development of statistical methods in ecology.  The research undertaken by individual staff members is described under the themes of “Developmental & Evolutionary Genomics”, “Ecology, Fisheries & Resource Management”, “Global Change & Planetary Evolution” and “Sea Mammal Biology”. 

SOI offers TA services for ASSEMBLE Plus and USTAN is an associated British partner in the consortium.


  • North Sea rocky shore and related man-made structures
  • North Sea sandy shores
  • Local shallow benthic systems
  • Estuarine mudflats (Eden, Tay, Forth)
  • Local saltmarsh, sand dunes, seagrass and freshwater (lacustrine and fluvial) habitats


Ecosystem access

  • Coastal research vessels (On-site service)
    • Specialist, robust (6-m aluminium-hulled) vessel designed and equipped to capture seals
    • 5-m RIB equipped with hydrophone capability for tracking whales and dolphins in coastal regions
  • Sampling equipment (On-site service)
    • Vehicular access to described ecosystems (laboratory-owned van)
    • Walkable access to rocky and sandy shore from SOI laboratory
    • Field equipment and operators for sediment geotechnical and ecological survey (GIS mapping, side-scan sonar, sediment stability, invertebrate biodiversity)
    • PAM fluorescence and radiometry for microphytobenthos biomass.
    • Sediment dynamics (field operable MagPI and CSM systems)
    • Safety equipment and appropriate risk assessments
    • Benthic, mudflat and saltmarsh sampling through photography, grab, and coring


Biological resources

  • Species collected upon request (On-site service)
    • Sampling of intertidal flora and fauna;
    • Microphytobenthos;
    • Benthic bacteria 
    • Shallow benthic infauna on request


Experimental facilities

  • Aquaria and tanks (On-site service)
    • Extensive seawater pool facility for marine research and equipment testing
    • Licenced by EU regulatory body to carry out scientific research with seals.  Maximum capacity of 9 animals
    • Well-equipped seawater pools for marine and underwater equipment testing
    • Aquaria for fish, benthos, algae, biofilms
    • Climate rooms (CO2 , temperature, light)
    • Disease challenge facilities (fish)
    • Replicated mesocosm systems for medium-term incubation of bacteria, foraminifera, microphytobenthos, benthos etc.
    • 8 m seawater flume supported by ADV and PIV systems
  • Dry labs (On-site service)
    • Climate rooms, and temperature- and light-controlled incubators
    • Modern 100 m2 laboratory
    • Access to advanced microscopes (light, confocal, ambient and cryo-SEM)
    • Equipment for molecular biology and biochemical analysis
    • Bacterial and biofilm studies, supported by molecular capability (NGS)
  • Wet labs (On-site service)
    • Pool facility with support
    • Climate rooms, and temperature- and light-controlled incubators
    • Disease challenge facilities (fish)
    • Marine, freshwater and brackish aquarium facilities for holding and /or experimenting on algae, invertebrates and fish
    • Sediment laboratory: sampling and support (wet sieving, sample handling etc)
    • 8-m seawater flume supported by ADV and PIV systems


Technology platforms

  • Structural and chemical analysis (On-site service)
    • Crystallisation
    • Gene expression
    • Identification of crystalline materials using x-ray diffraction
  • Imaging (On-site service)
    • Microscopy: light, confocal, fluorescence, SEM
  • Molecular biology and omics (On-site service)
    • Next generation sequencing and appropriate pipelines, specialising in benthic bacterial abundance and diversity
  • Remote sensing and telemetry (On-site service)
    • Provision of satellite and GSM relayed data loggers for deployment on marine mammals or gliders including pressure, salinity, temp, fluorescence, and turbidity
    • Passive acoustic tags for marine mammals
    • Passive acoustic monitoring equipment for remote monitoring of marine acoustic environments and real-time transmission of data to a ground station via GSM or satellite


Supporting faciltites

  • Library services (On-site service)


Local accommodation and student residences are available. Administrative support for travel and bookings

Scottish Oceans Institute, University of St Andrews
East Sands
St Andrews
KY16 8LB
United Kingdom
Liaison officer: Jane Williamson ( ), cc to: 

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