Dr Sebastian Hennige


I am a Senior Lecturer in the School of Geosciences, where I examine the impact of climate change and pollutants on marine organisms and ecosystems, with particular focus on tropical and cold-water coral reefs. I explore how Past events have impacted upon marine ecosystems and organisms, examine how organisms have adapted to survive in a wide variety of Present day systems, and use aquaria experiments to predict how Future projected changes will impact organism fitness. By combining climate research with potential pollution problems, I also investigate how nanoparticles from sunscreen may exacerbate the bleaching response of corals, and whether oil-degrading microbes can still ‘clean up’ oil spills in a future ocean. The four main themes of my research are:

  • The impact of climate change on tropical and cold-water corals
  • The impact of pollutants on marine organisms in a changing ocean
  • Ecosystem based adaptation and sustainable aquaculture
  • Fundamental Ecology

My fieldwork throughout my career has included expeditions to cold-water coral reefs in the UK and Norway, and to tropical reefs in Indonesia, the Maldives, the Seychelles and Egypt.

I was lead editor of a United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity report on ocean acidification, and am on the steering group for the MASTS Dynamics and Properties of Marine Systems theme.


I studied Marine and Environmental Biology at the University of St. Andrews before taking a PhD at the University of Essex examining acclimation and adaptations of corals across environmental gradients. I then went to the University of Delaware (USA) to research harmful algal bloom photophysiology in a variety of environments, and mechanisms underlying tropical coral bleaching. Following that, I moved to Heriot-Watt University to conduct the first long-term experiments on cold-water corals in a changing ocean. I was then awarded a NERC Fellowship at Heriot-Watt University and University of Edinburgh examining the impact of climate change in tropical and cold-water corals. I am currently a Lecturer in Marine Sciences at University of Edinburgh, in the School of GeoSciences.


My main teaching is within the MSc. Marine Systems and Policies Programme, but I am also actively engaged in various courses at undergraduate level.


  • Marine Systems and Policies Programme (Deputy Director)
  • Marine Ecosystem and Policies (Coure Organiser)
  • Marine Field Methods in Research and Practice (Course Organiser)
  • Corals in a Changing Oceans (Lecturer)


  • Environmental Problems and Issues (Lecturer)
  • Marine Systems and Policies (Course Organiser)
  • Field Ecology (Lecturer)
  • Tropical marine and terrestrial geoscience (Lecturer)


For all recent publications within the Changing Oceans Group, please click the link on the page header or click here.

For all my publications, please visit my Edinburgh Research Explorer page.

Contact details

Dr. Sebastian Hennige
School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Grant Institute, James Hutton Road
Edinburgh, EH9 3FE, UK

Office +44-(0)131-650-5410
Email s.hennige[at]ed.ac.uk

Current PhD students

Kelsey Archer Barnhill (2020-) Cold-water Coral Reef Growth and Loss in a Changing Ocean

Nadia Jogee (2018-) The role of coralliths in coral reef recovery and expansion

Konstantinos Georgoulas (2017-) Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamic modelling of coral growth under present and future conditions

Stephanie Liefmann (2017-) Physiology, competition and resource utilisation of key Cold-Water Coral reef habitat engineers

Maria Rakka (2017-) Cold-water corals in a changing ocean

Alyssa Bell (2016-) Spatial coral bleaching patterns and processes

Past PhD students

Heather Baxter (2016-2020) Understanding coral survival in a warmer world; the role of historic coral bleaching

Alice Tagliati (2015-2019) Ecotoxicology of sunscreen on tropical corals in a changing ocean

Afiq Mohd Fahmi (2015-2018) Marine microbial response to oil pollution in future oceans

Laurence Evans (2014-2017) Algal bioremediation of wastewater