Dr Bryan Wilson
Stipendiary Lecturer in Biological Sciences
I joined the Department of Zoology in December 2018 under the mentorship of Associate Professor Adrian Smith, as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in his eclectic and diverse Comparative Immunology Group, finding myself amongst kindred spirits studying reptiles, penguins, and medieval cadavers and latrines.
I'm a tropical and coldwater coral biologist and bioinformatician, working towards a better understanding of the effects of accelerating climate change on marine biological systems, and in particular coral reefs, and am seldom happier than when I'm floating out on - or beneath the water of - the remote open ocean. In recent years, this research has taken me to some extraordinary locations, and immediately prior to my position here at Oxford I was based at the University in Bergen in the fjordlands of Western Norway, where my work focused both on the impacts of the thawing ice caps on the marine biodiversity of the deep dark ocean waters around the Svalbard Archipelago.
At St Peter's, I teach Biological Sciences to undergraduates, focusing on biological diversity, evolution and symbiosis, and bringing an especially personal marine biological skew to those particularly pertinent and contemporary subject areas.
I am currently funded through the Bertarelli Program in Marine Science, investigating the resilience and recovery of corals in one of the world's most remote - and consequently pristine - reef systems, beneath the balmy waters of the Chagos Archipelago in the Central Indian Ocean. Here, in these almost entirely uninhabited islands 500 kilometres south of the Maldives, we find a unique opportunity to study the effects of global climate change without the confounding influences of direct and local anthropogenic activity.
These waters are also home to the world's rarest coral, the enigmatic Chagos brain coral, Ctenella chagius, as far as we are aware only found in this scattered island chain and I am currently focusing my research efforts on studying and conserving this critically endangered coral. I am also investigating a fairly recent phenomenon to threaten the reefs of the Caribbean - a coral-killing crustose alga spreading rapidly through the region - where I am working closely with my colleague and collaborator Professor Peter Edmunds at his long-term field site at St. John in the US Virgin Islands.
When here in Oxford, I am based at Zoology's John Krebs Field Station in the village of Wytham just on the outskirts of the city, where I am in the process of setting up the University's first "Reef Room" to model ecologically-relevant climate effects on corals in aquaria, for comparison with those at my field sites.