Dr Maria Donkin

Dr Maria Donkin

Visiting Research Fellow

School of Biological & Marine Sciences (NC) (Faculty of Science & Engineering (NC))


Associate Professor in Biomedical and Biological Sciences and Senior Tutor with responsibility for Student Support in the School of Biomedical and Biological Sciences. Member of the Faculty  Equality and Disability Committee; Project Leader for OPAL South West and the Heritage Lottery Funded Plymouth Woodland Project. Joint winner with the Friends of Ham Woods for the VC's Community Research Award 2013 ' The Effect on Wildlife of Various Management Regimes in Ham Woods'.


BSc Biochemistry 1st Class, University of Wales; PhD University of Wales; Post Grad. Cert. Ed. University of Exeter; Chartered Biologist; Fellow of the Society for Biology.

Professional membership

Member of The Academy of Higher Education Teaching; Member of the Society for Experimental Biology; Member of the Royal Horticultural Society. Fellow of the Society for Biology.

Teaching interests

Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, Plant Biotechnology, Human Biochemistry, Science Communication

Research interests

Plant and Algal Ecotoxicology : The Effects of VOCs on higher plants, The effects of UVB on higher plants and marine algae; The effects of antifouling compounds and heavy metals on marine algae and seagrasses; The interactions between pollutant effects on algae in the marine environment and interactions with other stresses such as UVB. More recently through the OPAL Project working on Public Engagement in Science and Science Communication.

Other research

Educational reseach on the effects of entry qualifications on final degree results - a study in Biological Sciences. Also research into methods of teaching plant taxonomy to novice volunteers and the accuracy of working with volunteers on assessment of grassland and woodland biodiversity (OPAL).

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

9 completed PhDs and currently 2 registered MPhil/PhD students as second supervisor.

Grants & contracts

AstraZeneca supported contract work and part-funded PhD studentship / research assistantship on ' The development of a laboratory based chamber system to measure the effects of VOCs on plants' 2002

.August 2007 sucessful as part of a 12 million ( 6 year ) Big Lottery Fund bid for the OPAL Project. The University of Plymouth represent the South West region in a national project involving communities in assessing the health of their environment. This prestigious project is co-ordinated from Imperial College and involves 9 regional universities, the Natural History Museum, Open University, The Met Office, National Biodiversity Network and the Environment Agency.

June 2013 Successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund and other partners for a total income of £136,227 for a two year project on 'Plymouth Woodland Heritage'

March 2013 VC's Community Research Award's Scheme £7,049 with the 'Friends of Ham Woods' community group for a 1 year project on 'The effect on wildlife of management schemes in urban woodland'.

March 2013 Teaching Fellowship for Peer to Peer Support Project ( £5308 ) with student counsellors Anne Bentley and Rosalind Ramage.

Research groups

  • Institute for Science Education

Bethan C. Stagg and Maria Donkin (2013) Teaching botanical identification to adults : experiences of the UK participatory science project 'Open Air Laboratories'. Journal of Biological Education, 47, 104-110.

Devilla, RA; Brown, MT; Donkin, M; Tarran, GA; Aiken, J and Readman JW (2005) Impact of antifouling booster biocides on single microalgal spaecies and on a natural marine phytoplankton community. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 286; 1-12.

Devilla, RA; Brown, MT; Donkin, M; Readman, JW (2005) The effects of a PSII inhibitor on phytoplankton community structure as assessed by HPLC pigment analyses, microscopy and flow cytometry. Aquatic Toxicology, 71, 25-38.

Cape, JN; Leith, J; Content, J; Donkin, M; Skewes,M; Price DN; Brown, AR and Sharpe, AD (2003) Effects of VOCs on herbaceous plants in an open-top chamber experiment. Environmental Pollution 124, 341-353.

Chesworth, JC; Donkin, M and Brown MT (2004) The interactive effects of the antifouling herbicides Irgarol 1051 and Diuron on the seagrass Zostera marina (L). Aquatic Toxicology 66, 293-305.

Cordi, B; Donkin, ME; Peloquin, J; Price, DN; Depledge, MH (2001) The influence of UV-B radiation on the reproductive cells of the intertidal macroalga, Enteromorpha intestinalis. Aquatic Toxicology 56, 1-11.

Lewis,S , Donkin ME and Depledge MH. Hsp 70 expression in Enteromorpha intestinalis (Chlorophyta) exposed to environmental stressors.(2001) Aquatic Toxicology 51, 277-291.

Cape,J.N., Leith,I.D., Binnie, J., Donkin, M., Price, D.N. and Brown, R. (2002) Techniques for measuring the response of plants to VOC exposure. Invited presentation at the World SETAC Conference in Salt Lake City USA, Oct 2002.

Wooster, D H, Donkin, M E, and Brown, A R (2003) Development and testing of a long-term, low-dose VOC dosing system. Invited presentation at the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting, Manchester Metropolitan University, Sept. 2003.

Cape, J N, Leith, I D, Donkin, M E , Price, D N, Brown A R, and Schroeder, P. Effects of airborne VOCs on plants. Invited presentation at the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting, Manchester Metropolitan University, Sept. 2003.

Reports & invited lectures

Several invited public lectures on  GM Crops and their safety.

2013 : Invited to present a workshop at the Society for Economic Botany Conference at Plymouth 28th June to 2nd July,