About us

The Marine Biological Association (MBA) is one of the world’s longest-running societies dedicated to promoting research into our oceans and the life they support. Since 1884 we have been providing a unified, clear, independent voice on behalf of the marine biological community and currently have a growing membership in over 40 countries. We also run a leading marine biological research laboratory where many eminent scientists - including 7 Nobel prize winners - have carried out their research.

MBA Director's Welcome

Whether you are a member or a visitor browsing our website, I would like to welcome you to the Marine Biological Association.

Since its foundation in 1884, the MBA at Plymouth has had a rich history and has seen many highly significant scientific discoveries at its Citadel Hill laboratory. Today, MBA scientists deliver an internationally-renowned programme of scientific research that is highlighted on these pages. Resident workers and visitors alike enjoy the high-quality facilities and services that we can provide.

The Association also plays a leading role in promoting marine biology through its many and varied activities ranging from public outreach to provision of advanced research training. I hope you find what you need on this site but that you are also inspired by the marine biology presented here – we would love to have you join us. You can find information on the Association such as: events and workshops; our publications (including the world’s longest-running marine biological journal, the Journal of the Marine Biological Association as well as our more recent magazine The Marine Biologist); the National Marine Biological Library. We also show how we work with and represent the marine biological community as a Royal Charter organization.

You can also learn how to contribute to marine biology and the marine environment by becoming a member or making a donation.

Professor Colin Brownlee, FMBA

MBA Director

The Marine Biological Association is a Learned Society
defined and recognised by Royal Charter.


The objects of the Association are:

"to promote the investigation, and to disseminate knowledge, of the seas and marine life, including the use of marine and other organisms for basic biosciences for the benefit of the public (where biosciences means marine biology in its widest sense)”.

The MBA achieves these aims through: its membership; high quality research; the work of the JMBA; and its education and outreach programmes. The MBA actively looks for members to support the work of the Association worldwide. If you would like to join the MBA please visit our membership page.

The MBA was founded in 1884 and in 1888 opened the Plymouth Laboratory at Citadel Hill. We have a well-respected Council who help guide the work of our researchers; please see here for a list of current Council members.

The Marine Biological Association is a registered charity. Charity registration number 1155893

Founded in 1884, the Marine Biological Association was granted a Royal Charter from Her Majesty the Queen in 2013, in recognition of the MBA’s long and eminent history and its status within the field of marine biology.

More information about the Charter can be found here. The Association's governance documents can be downloaded below:


Royal Patron

Throughout its history, the MBA has had a Royal Patron. The current patron of the MBA is HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh.

For a list of previous Royal Patrons of the MBA, please see the MBA Historical Collections website here.


Council Members

The MBA is governed by its members through a distinguished Council of leading scientists and public figures including permanent representatives from the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, the Royal Society, the Physiological Society, the Zoological Society, the British Science Association, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (or successor body) and the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers. In addition to the permanent representatives, the Council also includes a number of members who are elected at the Annual General Meeting and who serve for a period of three years. The Council is also the Board of Trustees.

The President is supported by the Honorary Treasurer who is elected annually from amongst the Association’s members, and a number of Vice-Presidents. The Council also appoints a Secretary, who is neither a member of Council or a trustee, and combines with this office the employed office of Director. Three committees oversee the Association’s day-to-day activities.

Full lists of the MBA’s previous Presidents and Directors can be found on the MBA Historical Collections site here and here respectively.





MBA Council


Honorary Treasurer



The Marine Biological Association also has a number of Vice-Presidents, that support the work of the MBA President.

The current Vice-Presidents of the MBA are:

  • Professor Geoff A. BOXSHALL, BSc, PhD, FRS
  • Professor Malcolm BURROWS, MA, PhD, ScD, FRS
  • Sir Richard CAREW POLE, Bt, DL
  • Sir Neil CHALMERS, Kt, PhD
  • Dr Eric D.S. CORNER, PhD
  • Professor Stephen J. HAWKINS, PhD
  • Sir Geoffrey HOLLAND, KCB
  • Professor Sir Frederick HOLLIDAY, Kt, CBE, FRSE
  • Professor James E. LOVELOCK, CH, CBE, DSc, FRS
  • Professor Geoff L.P. RANDALL, OBE, BSc, PhD, CCHEM
  • Sir Crispin TICKELL, MA, GCMG, KCVO
  • Professor Michael WHITFIELD, PhD, FRSC, FGS


The Association is also overseen by three Committees who report directly to Council: Finance and Management Committee, Knowledge Exchange Committee and the Research Committee


The Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
The Laboratory, Citadel Hill
Plymouth, Devon

+44 (0) 1752 426493 

+44 (0) 1752 633102