School of Biological Sciences


Photo of Professor Alex Ford

Professor Alex Ford

  • Qualifications: BSc Hons) MSc PhD
  • Role Title: Professor of Biology
  • Address: Institute of Marine Sciences Laboratories, Langstone Harbour, Ferry Road, Eastney, Portsmouth, P04 9LY
  • Telephone: 023 9284 5805
  • Email:
  • Department: School of Biological Sciences
  • Faculty: Faculty of Science


I studied Biological Sciences as an undergraduate at Plymouth University (1993-1996), followed by an MSc in Environmental Biology at University of Wales Swansea (1997). After spells working as a Nature Conservation Officer, Pollution Control Officer and Turtle Biologist, I settled down to a Senior Research Assistant post back in Wales (Swansea University 1991-2001) where I worked on a large European funded project identifying and mapping the epibenthic diversity of the North Sea. A PhD followed at Napier University (Edinburgh) investigating the effects of pollution on the endocrine systems of crustaceans (2001-2004).

On completion of my PhD I spent two and a half years lecturing at Napier University (2004-2007) followed by a Senior Research Fellowship post at the UHI Millennium Institute (2007-2008) based in Thurso (N. Scotland). I joined the School of Biological Sciences at Portsmouth University in August 2008 as a Senior Lecturer in Marine Zoology and became a Reader in Biology in 2012.

Teaching Responsibilities

I am the course leader for the MSc programme Applied Aquatic Biology and unit leader for the courses Marine and Terrestrial Ecology (1st yr), Marine Ecophysiology (3rd yr) and the MSc unit Ecotoxicology and Pollution. I also contributes to the teaching team for the units Biodiversity and Evolution, Marine Organisms and Ecosystems, Animal Science, Coastal Ecosystems and Ecosystem Function and Management.


My research focuses mainly on marine ecology and ecotoxicology. I have particular interests in the diversity and evolution of different reproductive systems found within the Crustacea and what happens when sex determination or sexual differentiation ‘goes wrong’ resulting in intersexuality and gymandromorphism. Ecotoxicological studies have focused particularly on how novel compounds (endocrine disrupters; nanoparticles; pharmaceuticals) may impact marine invertebrates. 

I have a keen interest in marine parasitology and wonderful ways in which parasites and pollution can alter the physiology, morphology, sex and behaviour of marine organisms. More recently, utilising high-throughput gene sequencing technologies (Roche 454; ABI SOLID & Illumina), I have been awarded a Natural Environmental Research Grant (NERC) grant to identify the genes associated with sexual differentiation in amphipods and investigate what genes are being “switched on or off” if a parasite and/or pollution causes a crustacean to changes sex. This has enabled follow on grants to look at the impact of novel environmental pollutants (antidepressants) and how they impact aquatic crustaceans.


Research profile

Explore my research profile, publications and activities on the Portsmouth Research Portal

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