The MBA is supported in part by the generosity of donors who have given funds to promote a particular aspect of our work.

There are a number of specific areas of the Association’s work where your support can really make a difference, ranging from student bursaries to supporting specific marine research projects:

  • Promoting Marine Biology: the MBA promotes marine biology in many ways including through its membership, magazine (The Marine Biologist) and support for graduates and aspiring marine biologists.
  • Marine Biological Research: The Marine Biological Association has served since 1884 as a world-renowned independent body, promoting and undertaking scientific research.
  • Sponsoring an MBA Research Fellow: MBA Fellows are leaders in the field of marine biological research addressing some of the biggest scientific challenges facing us in the 21st century.
  • Marine Education: engage the next generation by supporting Young Marine Biologist membership, citizen science activities and marine biology training.
  • National Marine Biological Library (NMBL): The NMBL holds one of the world’s largest collections of marine biological literature (modern and historical). Help ensure its viability for future generations.

Davis Laundon (centre), a recent recipient of the Molly Spooner student bursary

Some examples of how donations are being used to support specific MBA activities are listed below.

Warner Legacy

Professor Anne Warner, FRS, left a considerable legacy upon her death in 2012 in order to support research. The MBA has used this legacy to create the endowed “Warner Fellowship for the study of cell and molecular biology of marine organisms” currently occupied by Dr Pawel Burkhardt and a Warner studentship. This research is helping scientists to understand the evolution of nerve cells and provide insights into animal development, health and disease.

Spooner Bequests 

The G. Malcolm Spooner Bursary was established after his death in 1989 to enable university undergraduates to experience marine biological research at the MBA. Dr Molly Spooner bequeathed a further sum of money upon her death in 1997. Young scientists are therefore given the chance to research a topic of their choice, usually over a period of a few months. Dr Spooner’s bequest has recently been kindly supported further by her family in order to increase the opportunities available to undergraduate students at the MBA. Find out more about the most recent recipients as well as how to apply here.

Peter Baker Fellowship

The Peter Baker Fellowship was established to commemorate the scientific life and contributions of Professor Peter F. Baker FRS. The Fellowship is provided by funds contributed by individuals and Scientific Societies from all over the world and is used to encourage the interest of young research workers in marine biological research, particularly fundamental physiological research.

Southward Fund

Professor Alan Southward made a donation to the National Marine Biological Library in 2007 to support the maintenance of the library collection. The establishment of the NMBLs 'Southward Reading Room' for MBA members was supported by this fund - a plaque in Alan's honour can be seen proudly displayed for visitors to see.  

Herbert Bull Legacy

Herbert Bull left a sum of money in 1983 to support the work of the National Marine Biological Library.

Browne legacy

Edward Thomas Browne (1866 -1937) left a sum of money upon his death in 1937 mainly for the purchase of books for the National Marine Biological library.

F M Todd donation

F M Todd made a donation in 1962 for the purchase of rare and costly books (other than current serials or publications) connected with or related to the objects of the Marine Biological Association.

Mary Parke Fund

Dr Mary Parke FRS died in 1989 and as a tribute to her the Marine Biological Association and the British Phycological Society established a small fund to provide support for phycologists wishing to carry out research at the MBA. Find out how to apply here.

Ray Lankester

The Ray Lankester bequest was used to set up an investigatorship to advance the knowledge of marine animals and marine plants or to further the development of marine biology. Further information as well as details on how to apply can be found here.

It was funded by G.P. Bidder from the nominal profits of the lease to the MBA of R.V. ’Huxley‘ for the North Sea work, and the nominal profits from the sale of the vessel when the Government withdrew the grant for the North Sea work. In its earliest years the fund was actively managed by Bidder, who was a shrewd businessman as well as a scientist.

Dr Pawel Burhardt, the current holder of the Anne Warner Fellowship

Professor Anne Warner

Professor Warner was an eminent scientist, Professor of Anatomy and Embryology at University College London and a former Foulerton Professor of the Royal Society. Anne had a long and close association with the MBA Citadel Hill laboratory in Plymouth where she carried out research.

Dr Molly Spooner

Dr Molly Spooner was an eminent marine biologist who worked at the MBA between 1936 and 1976. She was best known for her work on the effects of oil pollution which culminated in 1973 with her being appointed as chief adviser to the Department of the Environment on oil pollution precautions and procedures. Her husband Malcolm Spooner, M.B.E. was a gifted zoologist who worked at the Marine Biological Association’s Laboratory in Plymouth for 41 years. Educated at Charterhouse and Christ’s College Cambridge he was appointed to the MBA staff in 1931 and did early work on the genetics of gammarids before carrying out pioneering studies on the uptake of radioactive fission products by seaweeds and marine animals. Malcolm initiated many generations of students into the wonders of shore collecting in the MBA Easter Classes.  He was also editor of the Journal of the Marine Biological Association (JMBA) for many years before his retirement in 1972. In addition to marine biology, Malcolm had many talents and interests, from his war-time codebreaking to his lifelong work in entomology, which started in his schooldays and continued into his final days in 1989. So also did his enthusiasm for nature conservation and his encouragement of young naturalists.

Peter Baker

Peter carried out much of his important scientific work at the Laboratory of the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth and was a Member of the Council and the Physiological Society’s Governor of the Association. The Fund is held in trust by the Physiological Society, the Company of Biologists and the Marine Biological Association, and is awarded by the Marine Biological Association.

Professor Alan Southward

Professor Alan Southward died aged 79 on Saturday 27th October 2007.  He was the most influential British marine biologist of his generation and an inspiration to all that met him. He was also a Marine Biological Association (MBA) stalwart working in Plymouth for well over 50 years.

Alan was born in Liverpool in 1928, and attended Liverpool Collegiate School. His father, a fitter, was involved in traditional Merseyside industries such as Cunard, eventually working at the Meccano factory.  Alan grew up during the war and entered the University of Liverpool in its aftermath.  In his early teens he became deaf as a consequence of meningitis.  Getting into University was a major achievement for a profoundly deaf student, especially during times when there were fewer opportunities for people with disabilities.  By the time Alan was in Part II and Honours he had a circle of friends who took notes for him whilst he concentrated on the drawing blackboard diagrams.  Clearly this strategy worked: the University of Liverpool awarded him a First Class Honours degree in Zoology in 1948.  That year he submitted his first paper to Nature on jellyfish ciliary mechanisms, being drawn to marine biology due to the lasting influence of Professor J H Orton FRS.  Many were to follow.  In total he produced over 220 publications, many in Nature.

Alan first encountered the University of Liverpool’s Marine Biological Station (then part of Zoology) at Port Erin whilst attending field courses.  When he first went there, electric light had not been installed.  This did not put him off and he returned for a PhD and then stayed for a University Post Doctoral Fellowship.  His PhD work on intertidal ecology was with the guidance of Professor Orton.  The breadth and scope of his PhD – quantitative ecology of both rocky and depositing shores – would not conform to the focussed perspectives of modern grant awarding agencies.  Whilst doing this work he managed to find time to add to records for the Isle of Man Fauna and develop an interest in weather and climate.  He also got seriously involved in photography – a life long passion.  Much of this early work was published in journals such as ‘Transactions of the Liverpool Biological Society’ which denied it a wider audience – but it was an invaluable first step for scores of subsequent PhD studies at Port Erin.  These studies, along with those of Jones, Burrows and Lodge, were some of the first field experimental studies on rocky shores, pioneering an approach which has contributed hugely to ecological theory.  He concentrated largely on rocky shores whilst doing his Fellowship.  This involved biogeographic mapping of the major species of British and Irish Shores, laboratory experiments on the causes of these patterns, completion and write up of Orton’s work on limpet reproduction and follow up work on the limpet removal experiments of the late 1940’s at Port Erin.  Much of this biogeographic fieldwork was done on the back of a motorcycle balanced using sight cues only – intrepid as well as pioneering work.  During this period a long standing collaboration was started with Professor Dennis Crisp FRS leading to some of the first papers on the influence of climate on the outcome of competitive interactions in barnacles.

Whilst on the Isle of Man Alan met Eve.  Whether on a pillion of a motorcycle, on the shore, or at sea, Eve has been a collaborator and source of support to Alan over the years.  Theirs was an almost symbiotic relationship, as Eve was often Alan’s interface with the spoken word.  She is also a fine scientist of international reputation in her own right, an expert on polychaetes, Pogonophora and equal partner in the work on hydrothermal vents and chemosynthetic nutrition of animals.

Alan moved to Plymouth when he took up a DSIR Fellowship at the MBA, marrying Eve soon after arriving. Throughout the 1950s Alan consolidated his reputation in the ecology of shore animals, completing much of the biogeographic work, testing temperature tolerances, undertaking laboratory studies of barnacle feeding behaviour and, in 1958, writing a cracking review on zonation on rocky shores.  Under the influence of Russell his energies were directed offshore and he took over responsibility for the zooplankton and young fish part of the MBA long-term study of the English Channel which stretched back to the turn of the century.  He had realized the importance of climatic fluctuations as the most likely explanation for the inconsistency of the English Channel Ecosystem, especially given that many species reached their biogeographic limits in South and South-West England.  Within this programme he incorporated studies of intertidal barnacles as indicators of climate change

He was awarded his DSc in the early 1960s.  He gained much satisfaction from the presence on the platform of the degree ceremony of a former Dean, who a decade earlier had not been convinced about the wisdom of admitting a deaf student.  With bigger ships at the MBA, interests offshore and in deep water were developed in the 1950s and 1960s in liaison with Eve. They started working on gutless pogonophoran worms that in the past had been chucked back over the side as ‘gubbins’. The very cold winter of 1962/3 and a switch back to colder conditions prompted continuation of long-term studies on the shore and helped maintain the impetus for the long-term offshore work.  In 1964 a very influential review of the influence of limpet grazing was written and a textbook on seashore ecology followed in 1965.

The work on shores was perhaps becoming dormant but was reawakened with a crash when the Torrey-Canyon oil spill contaminated most of the shores of western Cornwall in 1967.   Fortunately a network of sites had been established for long-term studies on climate, hence a baseline existed.  Work on the recovery of shores from massive use of dispersants that were more toxic than the oil itself showed recovery needed 10-15 years in contrast to the 2-3 years on untreated.  It also gave valuable insights in to the role of limpet grazing in structuring shore communities, plus mechanisms of succession, and a key paper by the Southwards that is a classic and much cited.

In the 1970s work concentrated on describing the return of more northerly species to the Channel culminating in an excellent review in Nature in 1980 which noted a breakdown in the relationship between sunspots as an index of solar heat flux and sea temperature leading to present speculation on human driven climate change.  The 1970s also marked the realization that Darwin’s panglobal species C. stellatus was several species and that European C. stellatus consisted of two species: C. stellatus Poli and C. montagni Southward.  Alan embraced biochemical genetics in collaboration with Paul Dando to sort out these taxonomic problems.  Over the years Alan became the European taxonomic expert on barnacles, revising much of Darwin’s early work on barnacles as well as working on deep sea stalked barnacles.

The late 1970s saw the discovery of hydrothermal vents. The Southwards’ longstanding interest in Pogonophora became suddenly fashionable as closely related giant vestimentiferan worms were discovered by Alvin dives. They started work on the role of symbionts in the nutrition of the vestimentiferan fauna and showed that similar modes of chemosynthetic nutrition occurred in shallow water organisms from sulphide and methane rich environments.  Alan and Eve involved Paul Dando and David Dixon throughout the 1980s and 1990s in this exciting new endeavour.  I remember enjoying ‘home movies’ at the Southwards’ house – Eve’s footage from an ‘Alvin’ dive to several thousand metres.

Alan was an unfortunate casualty of the re-organisation of the Marine Laboratories at Plymouth in 1986/1987; he had to retire at the age of 60 instead of 65 because of the new terms of employment offered to MBA staff.  The 80 plus year old MBA time series was stopped in 1988 – ironically just as detection of global warming and its impacts on marine ecosystems were becoming apparent.  Characteristically Alan bounced back.  Leverhulme funding for a Fellowship was secured providing salary and funding for another three years concentrating on chemosynthetic-driven systems in equal partnership with Eve.  A house was bought in Canada to be nearer to vents. The freedom of action allowed successful applications to NERC and the EU for grants and there was not any hint of retirement.  In 1989 Alan was made a Visiting Professor in Marine Biology of the University of Liverpool Port Erin Laboratory where his visits to teach and co-supervise students were always much appreciated. He was also an adjunct Professor at Victoria University, British Columbia.  Since 1987 he published well over 60 papers in so-called retirement.

Throughout the 1990s it became clear that global climate change was occurring.  There was a growing realization of the human contribution via greenhouse gases; global warming progressed from speculation to a generally accepted view.  The value of long-term data sets were belatedly seen as vital to help disentangle human driven global change from natural fluctuations and local and regional impacts such as fishing, pollution and habitat loss.  A bad fall in 1999 stopped work at sea and on the shore, so the focus of Alan’s work became barnacle taxonomy and advising on the re-start of long-term series on UK shores and in the Western English Channel between 1999 and 2006. He completed a Linnean Society Monograph on barnacles which went to press earlier this autumn.  Alan led a major review of the long-term research conducted in Plymouth for more than 100 years which appeared in 2005 in Advances in Marine Biology.   He graciously handed over the MBA time-series to younger generations as well as the editing of Advances in Marine Biology.  Without his presence in the MBA laboratory the long-term data would have been skipped and lost or deleted from old file formats.  His data stewardship has led to more than a dozen papers, some of which contributed to the recent IPCC report.

In addition to their scientific accomplishments, both Alan and Eve have provided much hospitality, humour and support to the general marine biological community over the years – particularly to young scientists, some of them quite scruffy, pierced, long-haired and superficially unpromising material. The Southwards were always generous and unselfish collaborators and fine hosts. Alan and Eve have been stalwarts at EMBS meetings, particularly those in less glamorous places such as Gdansk in the 1980s.  Alan’s contribution to conferences over the years has always been marvellous.  His talks were always stimulating and scholarly, whilst being amusing.  His questions and comments helpful and insightful.  But, woe-betide any contributor with too small a font size: the binoculars would be whipped out and some comment would be made non-too quietly!

He was also an outspoken critic of short-termism in British Science.  He was not above being critical of MBA management regimes – including my own – except for that of Russell for whom his praise was unstinting. Perhaps his breadth of interests have counted against him, coupled with his plain speaking – but it has been a surprise to many that there has not been more formal recognition of his contribution to British Science other than his honorary Fellowship of the Linnean Society in which he took great pride. We all have fond and amusing memories and much admiration for a true gentleman of science.

Edward Thomas Browne

Edward Thomas Browne (1866-1937) was a marine biologist with a wide interest in all living things, but who specialised in the study of hydroids and medusae (jellyfish). Browne began studying marine life in 1891 at University College London and this led to visits to the marine stations in Port Erin (Isle of Man) and Valencia (Ireland), and to the Laboratory of the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth. Over the following 20 years he was a regular visitor to Devon and Cornwall, conducting taxonomic work on British medusae in preparation for a monograph, and studying collections of medusae from all over the world. He was especially skilled at creating and building new instruments that would help him with his research. The “plunger jar” is one such invention which enabled Browne to keep medusae alive, at least for a short time, in an aquarium so that they could be studied. Browne was very interested in microscopy and was also a very capable artist. Browne was an active member of the MBA and a generous benefactor of the Association. His obituary can be found at

Mary Parke

Mary was an eminent phycologist who began working at the Marine Biological Association’s Laboratory in Plymouth in 1940 and remained there for the rest of her career. Mary made pioneering studies on the distribution, life-histories and systematics of marine phytoplankton and macroalgae. Her seminal work on the flagellates using new approaches in microscopy provided a catalyst that essentially established the field of marine phytoplankton. Her discovery and meticulous description of many marine planktonic species laid the foundations for future earth system science research that showed their importance in the global cycling of carbon dioxide and the production of volatile sulphur compounds. Her work was also of central importance to commercial mariculture; she not only described important flagellates but went on to demonstrate that one of these was indeed excellent food for oyster larvae. The flagellate cultures arising from her work were used in oyster farms throughout the world and enabled oyster culture to become a commercial proposition. Her contribution to science was recognised internationally by her election to honorary membership of the Royal Botanical Society of the Netherlands (1970), the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters (1971) and to the Fellowship of the Royal Society (1972).

Professor Anne Warner


Professor Alan Southward

If you would like to leave a gift in your will then please contact the MBA at Alexandra Street at or Dr Matthew Frost at

If you wish to make a donation to the MBA then advice on payment options is provided below.

Payment options:

If you wish to make a donation by cheque, then please make it payable to Marine Biological Association and post to Alexandra Street: along with a letter detailing your donation.

MBA bank details can be provided on request from or

An invoice can be requested from outlining contribution amount and payer details.

If you would like to make a card payment then please telephone the finance office on 0044 (0)1752 426540 .

Gift Aid your Membership fee. Please indicate if you would like the Marine Biological Association to reclaim the tax on any eligible donations you have made as well as any future donations. The Association will reclaim in the tax year in which the gift was given.

To arrange other payment methods or to discuss how your donation could be used please contact Alexandra Street: or Dr Matthew Frost: 01752 426540