Mel Austen

UKERC Researcher, Networking Fund Steering Group Member

Dr Melanie Austen is Head of Science at PML leading the Sea and Society area of science. She has recently completed a 3 year term as the Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK's Marine Management Organisation. In PML Mel leads a broad spectrum of interdisciplinary research projects from the socio-economics of marine ecosystems and their services through to environment and human health, and marine biodiscovery. Mel has led and participated in several EU projects and is currently the scientific co-ordinator of the interdisciplinary EU FP7 project VECTORS - Vectors of Change in Oceans and Seas Marine Life, Impact on Economic Sectors.

Mel was originally a benthic ecologist specialising in meiofauna research, but in the last fifteen years she has been developing and leading UK and EU funded collaborative marine research that directly interfaces marine ecology and ecosystem modelling with environmental economics to support policy development and management for sustainable ecosystems. This research encompasses the environmental benefits and costs of a diversity of human activity in the seas such as renewable energy extraction, shipping, tourism and recreation, fishing and conservation.

Mel’s wide-ranging research interests include: links between marine biodiversity, ecosystem function and ecosystem services and the socio-economic value of the services; natural and human impacts on provision of marine ecosystem goods and services and their socio-economic values; impact of renewable energy, aquaculture and fishing on marine ecosystem processes, biodiversity and goods and services; benthic-pelagic coupling; field and experimental benthic ecology in coastal habitats and nematode taxonomy using traditional, molecular and computer-based techniques. Dr Melanie Austen has written over 60 peer reviewed research papers and book chapters.