Prof Peter Williams

Emeritus Professor


I joined the Bangor University as Professor of Marine Biology, later to be Professor of Marine Biogeochemistry. My original training was as an industrial biochemist but on graduating I rightly came to the view that oceanography offered more interesting challenges than food technology. My entry into oceanography was enabled by a Post Doctorate fellowship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. From there I moved to the then just formed department of Oceanography at Southampton University; where I remained for some 17 years. Then followed 2 year spells at the Bigelow Lab in Maine and as Professor of Marine Microbiology at the University of Gothenburg, before taking up the post at Bangor. On retirement I was awarded emeritus professor status.

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My initial research interest was in the dynamics of DOC and its composition as food for marine bacteria. This led me to be one of a group of people who drove through the new and the present paradigm of the role of bacteria in the planktonic food web. From this my interest broadened to overall heterotrophic metabolism - respiration. To enable this work I developed an ultra high precision analytical method for the analysis of oxygen concentrations in seawater and the group I assembled became leaders in this field. This work led on to the question of the balance of metabolism (photosynthesis versus respiration) in the oceans and I played a leading role in the debate over purported ocean heterotrophy. Recently, I have developed an interest on the physiology and biochemistry of micro-algae in relation to their potential for biomass and biofuel production. 

I have co-edited and published a number of books, the most recent being: Phytoplankton Productivity: Carbon Assimilation in Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems" (2002), "Respiration in Aquatic Ecosystems" (2005) and "Marine Ecology - Processes, Systems, and Impacts" (2005). 

I have an interest in the interplay between art and science and organised a highly successful Art Exhibition "Plankton as an Artistic Inspiration" at the Feb 2007 Ocean Sciences Meeting of the American Society for Limnology and Oceanography in Santa Fe.

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