John studied Microbiology at Queen Elizabeth College, University of London, prior to moving across town to University College (also University of London) for his PhD. His PhD work (1973-1976) introduced him to the biology of phytoplankton and he focused on ways in which these photosynthetic organisms adapt to their light environment and acquire inorganic carbon for photosynthesis. This included a 10-month stint at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences seeing if results from lab cultures could also be applied to natural marine phytoplankton populations.
Post-doctoral studies followed – first at University College of North Wales operating out of the Marine Science Laboratories in Menai Bridge and looking at phytoplankton populations and productivity in Liverpool Bay and the Irish Sea, then (Jan 1979-June 1982) with John Raven at University of Dundee examining mechanisms of inorganic carbon uptake by algae. This latter posting has continued into a life-long research collaboration with John Raven that persists to the present day. He moved to Australia in 1982, taking up a Lecturer position at La Trobe’s Department of Botany. He and his team moved across to Monash in 1988 when John was appointed Senior Lecturer in the, then, Department of Botany. He currently holds a Professorial position in SBS.
John’s research group focuses on the physiology of algae in relation to environmental factors such as ocean acidification. A major interest is related to understanding the ways in which marine and freshwater microalgae, including the cyanobacteria responsible for toxic blooms in inland and coastal waters, will be influenced by global change.
Other studies relate to the impacts of heavy metals on algae and possible ways to utilise these organisms in waste-water purification and the uses of algae for production of lipids for biodiesel.