Beginning as a few students independently volunteering with the Changing Oceans research group, Undergrads Changing Oceans (UCO) has grown into their own undergraduate research and outreach team. Our primary interests are to engage in marine research and education, and to engage others.



With a year of experience assisting in the lab, the team developed the skills and confidence to lead their own project. Our project is investigating whether concentrations of microplastics currently found in ocean surface waters affect the physiological health of the sea anemone Exaiptasia palida. Anemones are closely related to corals, the foundation of coral reef systems which support diverse underwater communities. This makes them an ideal model organism for investigating whether current concentrations microplastic pollution are a threat to marine life.

Currently: writing up our research on microplastics!


UCOlabpicWe work with the Changing Oceans research group to maintain the coral tanks in the lab. Here we learn the best way to keep corals and other tank creatures happy and healthy and monitor their environment. Hands on experience is the best experience and this way our team is developing important coral husbandry skills.


The team also engages in outreach. Some members research, write and edit for Lophelia.org, an engaging and informative website on cold water corals and the deep sea with an introduction from Sir David Attenborough himself! Others are preparing collaborative projects with schools and the Changing Oceans group which will take us to science festivals and out into the field (or the beach!) with the wider public.

Currently: creating new Lophelia.org webpages and waiting for funding application results to start up a series of collaborative Arts and Science events!

If you’d like to get in touch to ask questions, collaborate or get involved, email one of the team co-leader’s addresses below!

Alice Wiersma – s1737074@ed.ac.uk

Mark Pitt – s1738967@ed.ac.uk

We have been featured in the International Coral Reef Society’s Feature Friday blog highlighting the work we have done on our research project, see here for the full article!