School of Biological Sciences

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Photo of Professor Paul Hayes

Professor Paul Hayes

  • Qualifications: BSc, PhD
  • Role Title: Professor of Biology, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education and Student Experience).
  • Address: Science Faculty Office, St. Michael's Building, White Swan Road, Portsmouth, PO1 2DT
  • Telephone: 023 9284
  • Email: paul.hayes@port.ac.uk
  • Department: School of Biological Sciences
  • Faculty: Faculty of Science

Biography

I have a BSc and PhD in Marine Biology from the University of Wales (Bangor). From 1980 until 2008 I worked in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, where I was Head of School from 1998. In 2008 I was appointed to my current role as Dean of Science at the University of Portsmouth. I am a phycologist and microbial ecologist. Most of my research has focused on gaining an improved understanding of the biology and ecology of cyanobacteria in both marine and freshwater environments. The cyanobacteria are a diverse group of photosynthetic prokaryotes that play important roles in primary production and in the global nitrogen cycle. Some cyanobacteria produce potent toxins and their growth in lakes and reservoirs impacts negatively on supplies of drinking water and on the recreational use of such water bodies.

Teaching Responsibilities

I make a very small direct contribution to teaching in Portsmouth. As a Head of School in Bristol, I enjoyed a small but significant input into the teaching across three programmes: Biology, Biochemistry and Microbiology. The bulk of my teaching has been in the areas of microbial ecology and metabolism, but I have also been involved in the teaching of molecular genetics, biotechnology and basic biochemical processes, such as photosynthesis.

Research

The initial focus of my research was to generate an understanding of the molecular structure of gas vesicles, the mechanisms that allow their accumulation and the selective forces that have shaped their evolution: these structures provide buoyancy and thus allow access to light in important groups of photosynthetic primary producers that would otherwise sink out into darker, deeper waters. More recently my research focus has switched to the genetic structure of microbial populations and communities. The aim has been to explore and quantify the interaction between the environment and microbial genomes in an attempt to understand succession and evolution in the microbial communities that form the base of the food chain in aquatic ecosystems.

Current work focuses on freshwater planktonic cyanobacteria and the viruses that help shape their population structures. Working with colleagues at the Natural History Museum in London, I have contributed to an improved understanding of the taxonomy of morphologically depauperate species of the red algae and of both green and brown algal endophytes growing within seaweed hosts.

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Research profile

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