Matt Davey


  • Senior Lecturer in Algal Biotechnology, SAMS UHI
  • United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus
Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research Expertise

I am an algal physiologist and ecologist. My key interests are in understanding the diversity of metabolism in natural ecosystems and controlled environments and how such knowledge can be translated for innovation purposes by collaborating with industrial partners involved in biotechnology, bioenergy and natural high value products.

I have carried out research and supervision on a wide range of algal topics from the ecology of snow algae in Antarctica, remote sensing polar algae blooms, using algae for bioenergy, bioremediation, pigments and food production on earth across all continents to exploiting algae to help astronauts on long term space missions. I also lead the EU EIT-Food international algae biotechnology training courses across Europe.

My new Algal Metabolic Ecology group will study aspects of functional interactions between microbial biodiversity, biochemistry and environmental change. This will require a mix of traditional and contemporary field-based techniques and experimental systems in the laboratory. The main themes of this group are: Environmental Metabolomics and Physiology – discovering metabolic traits associated with cold tolerance, the role of metabolic plasticity in responding to environmental and climate change, the distribution of metabolic traits across populations, and Algal Biotechnology and Innovation – exploring novel sources of sustainable biomaterials, nutrients, high value products, feedstocks and bioenergy.

Teaching Expertise

2018–present:  European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) - Food.

Activity leader for professional development training courses in UK, Germany and Iceland on “Algal Biotechnology Techniques and opportunities for the sustainable bio economy”. Over 100 delegates trained to date.

2012–2018:  British Ecological Society

Plant Environmental Physiology Special Interest Group. Key organiser (chair of group) for international and national field training courses (academic and industrial trainers, NERC approved) in Portugal and UK. Trained over 300 delegates.

2011-2020:  Graduate School of Life Sciences (GSLS) (University of Cambridge)

Designed and developed new lecture/training course on “Introduction to metabolomics”

Previous undergraduate teaching

2016-2017: Teaching Associate (Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge):

Co-ordinated supervisions for Plant and Microbial Sciences (PMS) students Practical organiser for 1B PMS RuBisCO phenotyping course and NIAB field trips

2011-present: Lecturing and practical classes (University of Cambridge):

Designed and delivered lectures, exam questions and workshop material for the ‘Frontiers in Plant Metabolism’ module for part II (year 3) undergraduates; lecturer for microbial ecology. Co-ordinated, co-designed and lectured for a practical on organelle inheritance patterns in unicellular algae for the Part IB (year 2) Cell and Developmental Biology course and the RuBisCO phenotyping practical

2009-present:  Undergraduate supervisor (University of Cambridge)

Supervised 60 (to date) undergraduate Natural Science Tripos students from various Cambridge colleges for the part IA (year 1) Physiology of Organisms course and the part IB (year 2) Plant and Microbial Sciences course. Responsible for choosing discussion topics, setting and marking essays and engaging the students in free thinking about the scientific content and relevance of the course. Provided feedback of each student’s progress to their Director of Studies

Current research students 

Ellen Harrison: Sustainable natural production of vitamins for human consumption in long space missions using synthetic ecology approaches. PhD 2018, University of Cambridge – SCK - ESA MELiSSA space project (led by Prof Alison Smith and Dr Natalie Leys)

Sam Coffin: Polar algae – exploiting cold tolerant phenotypes in polar diatoms for increased growth and metabolite production. PhD 2017, University of Cambridge and BAS - Cambridge Earth System Science NERC DTP (led by Prof Alison Smith and Prof Melody Clarke)

Alumni research students 

Carl Barker: Native Lime Tree Comparative Metabolomics. PhD 2017, Edge Hill University (led by Dr Paul Hill)

Rachel George: Metabolomics of coastal plant communities. PhD 2014, Sheffield University (led by Prof. Rob Freckleton)

Services Expertise

I have over 20 years’ experience working on algal and plant physiology research and education projects and have extensive knowledge of the international algal biotechnology sector. I work closely with industry, from micro-SMEs to multinational companies, and government in the algal biotechnology, bioenergy, bioremediation, nutraceutical, metabolomics, education and ecology sector. I have worked on numerous consultancy projects and contributed to expert advice in this sector.

I have extensive experience in project management and polar science expedition planning. I also lead the EU EIT-Food international algae biotechnology training courses across Europe. I was an Enterprise and Impact Champion at the University of Cambridge for 6 years before joining SAMS.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


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Collaborations from the last five years

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