New University Lectureship to advance understanding of marine biology

New University Lectureship to advance understanding of marine biology

  • Tony Whitten in Raja Ampat, on his final voyage
    Tony Whitten in Raja Ampat, on his final voyage

Photo credit: Anastasia Louhenapessy

A new lectureship in Marine Biology has been created in the Department of Zoology, with the intention of strengthening the Department’s capability as a centre of excellence in the research and teaching of marine biology.


This post builds on the Department’s existing strengths and historic legacy of inspiring teaching and research, embodied by former faculty such the late Martin Wells (Trinity 1946), who enthused generations of students with the sheer excitement and beauty of studying animals, especially squids and octopuses, and the wonders of marine life. The new lectureship will enhance the Department’s strengths in animal behaviour, ecology, evolution and conservation biology.

The new Lectureship has been made possible by a donation from alumna Claire Barnes (Clare 1976), following discussions with Dr Tony Whitten (King's 1975), Dr William Foster (Emeritus Curator of Insects) and other members of the Department during a voyage in Indonesia in 2017. Dr Whitten was then senior adviser at Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and a wonderful ambassador for both FFI and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI). Tragically, Tony died whilst cycling, shortly after his return to Cambridge – a conservationist to the end.

The Lectureship is announced as a tribute to Tony Whitten and a celebration of his brilliant work as an ecologist, a practical conservation scientist, and a passionate advocate for some of the world’s less charismatic creatures. Reflecting on his life, Claire Barnes said: ‘he was known for his work on land, but as the photo shows, equally at home under water – in fact it was hard to coax him out. The boatmen called him "Mr Wallace", after his great hero, explorer and naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. Tony noted that Wallace waxed lyrical about the colours, abundance, and diversity of life on the coral reefs, and wondered what else he might have observed with the advantages of a mask and snorkel. Like Sir David Attenborough (Clare 1945), Tony loved our "Blue Planet". He was an inspiring, energetic and tireless educator and mentor, an indefatigable optimist and a wonderful friend.’

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