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Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton
(023) 8059 6617

Dr Cathy Lucas BSc, PhD, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (since 2009)

Associate Professor in Marine Biology

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I am a coastal and shelf sea pelagic ecologist predominantly working on the causes and consequences of jellyfish population variability and blooms events.

An understanding of the natural world is a source of not only great curiosity, but great fulfilment – Sir David Attenborough

Career History

2014 – present: Associate Professor, School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton.
2002 – 2014: Lecturer, School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton.
1999 – 2002: EPRSC Postdoctoral research fellow at University of Southampton
1996 – 1999: EU Postdoctoral research fellow at University of Southampton
1995 – 1996: Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, Florida, USA
1994 – 1995: Teaching Fellow, Department of Oceanography, University of Southampton

Academic Qualifications

Research interests

Specialisms: Gelatinous zooplankton, jellyfish blooms, scyphozoan life histories

I am a marine ecologist with a broad and multidisciplinary interest in coastal and shelf sea pelagic ecosystems.

My primary interest is the study of jellyfish blooms, which has involved a number of international partnerships over the last 20 years. I was a key member of the NCEAS-funded Global Jellyfish Blooms Working Group and a leading co-author, with Dr Robert Condon, of the Jellyfish Blooms Database Initiative (JeDI), the first global database of in situ jellyfish presence and abundance data. I have co-edited a book on Jellyfish Blooms and have provided interviews and popular science articles for various TV, radio and online media, as well as contribute to the BBC’s Blue Planet II series as a scientific advisor.

A primary area of my research in recent years has focused on understanding the causes and consequences of jellyfish blooms. Using a combination of field sampling of coastal and estuarine jellyfish and laboratory experiments, we explore the effects of various physico-chemical parameters on reproduction and life histories of medusae and polyps to determine what drives jellyfish population dynamics. In addition, I am interested in the impact of jellyfish blooms, both socio-economically on industries such as coastal tourism in the Mediterranean and UK, as well as on the pelagic trophic structure and function in collaboration with colleagues with expertise on biogeochemical cycling and stable isotope analyses.

PhD supervision


  • Dr Graihagh Hardinge (2013-2019): The macroecology of globally-distributed deep-sea jellyfish. (co-supervised with Prof. Beth Okamura, Natural History Museum).
  • Dr Danja Hoehn (2013-2017): Population variability in Aurelia aurita. (co-supervised with Dr Sven Thatje, University of Southampton).
  • Dr Michael Blackett (2011-2015): Biology and ecology of the siphonophore Muggiaea atlantica in the northeast Atlantic. (co-supervised with Dr Priscilla Licandro, Sir Alistair Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science).
  • Dr Charlotte Best (2008-2012): Temporal dynamics of microplankton in the Sargasso Sea. (co-supervised by Prof Duncan Purdie, University of Southampton, with support from Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science).
  • Dr Aldo Aquino-Cruz (2007-2012): Effect of increasing sea water temperature on the growth and toxin production of three harmful benthic dinoflagellates isolated from the Fleet Lagoon, Dorset, UK. (co-supervised by Prof. Duncan Purdie, University of Southampton).


  • Florence Athenden (2018-): The ecophysiology of Arctic copepods. (NERC SPITFIRE; co-supervised with Dr Daniel Mayor and Dr Kathryn Cook, National Oceanography Centre, Dr Mark Viant, University of Birmingham, Prof David Pond, University of Stirling)
  • Nathan Hubot (2018-): Investigating the role of jellyfish and its associated microbiome in nutrient cycles and carbon export. (GSNOCS; co-supervised with Dr Sarah Giering and Dr Julie Robidart, National Oceanography Centre).
  • Alexandra Loveridge (2017-): What drives population cycles? Influence of climate and environment on phase transition between life stages of the complex life cycle of a bloom-forming scyphozoan. (NERC SPITFIRE; co-supervised with Prof. Kylie Pitt, Griffith University Australia)
  • Frances Perry (2016-2021):The impact of rapid climate change on Antarctic krill and the Southern Ocean ecosystem. (NERC SPITFIRE; co-supervisor with Dr Angus Atkinson and Dr Sevrine Sailley, Plymouth Marine Lab, Dr Geraint Tarling, British Antarctic Survey, Dr Daniel Mayor, National Oceanography Centre).
  • Christina Wood (2016-): Species resilience, plasticity and adaptation to environmental change (University of Southampton Mayflower Scholar; co-supervisor with Dr Jasmin Godbold, University of Southampton, Dr Laura Grange, Bangor University).

Research projects

  • Insights into the feeding and metabolism of jellyfish polyps (NERC LSMSF, 2016)
  • Influence of scyphozoan polyps on the distribution and abundance of bloom-forming jellyfish (National Geographic Society, 2013)
  • Global expansion of jellyfish blooms: magnitude, causes and consequences (Global jellyfish blooms working group (NSF-NCEAS, 2012)

Research group

Marine Biology and Ecology

Affiliate research groups

Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS), Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI)

  • External examiner for Marine Science degree at NUI, Galway (2019-2023)
  • Member of Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) peer review college (2012-)
  • Member of Ecology review panel for Norwegian Research Council (2009-2014)
  • Director of OES Student Recruitment
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Module leader
SOES240/3013/6009 Zooplankton Ecology and Processes

Contribute to
SOES1007 Introduction to marine invertebrates
SOES6001 Contemporary Topics in Ocean Science
SOES6052 Tropical marine biology
SOES3035 Oceanography and Marine Biology Research Training
Supervise independent research projects for BSc, MSci, MSc and MRes students
Personal academic tutor to 1st and 2nd years.

Summer Schools
Lecture on Headstart and Aspire summer schools.

Dr Cathy Lucas
Ocean and Earth Science
National Oceanography Centre Southampton
University of Southampton Waterfront Campus
European Way
Southampton SO14 3ZH

Room Number : NOCS/456/08

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