Ben's research focuses on ways we can support tropical reef conservation and restoration with artificial intelligence.
Ben is a PhD student at ZSL and UCL, supported by the Fisheries Society of the British Isles. During his PhD, Ben has been working to develop machine-learning techniques to monitor and support coral reef conservation. This is in close cooperation with his industry partner Mars, who operate the world’s largest coral reef restoration program using the MARRS technique (buildingcoral.com), and a collaborative group of restoration scientists.
Ben's work to date has primarily focused on monitoring coral reefs using their ‘soundscape’. This has included the development of low-cost recording technology and machine learning driven analysis. A significant portion of this has focused on tracking recovery on restored reefs, research which won the prestigious 2023 NetExplo award for the top digital innovation for sustainability globally. Ben continues to advance this work using datasets from around the world.
Additional applications of machine learning for reef conservation Ben is working on include the detection of illegal bomb fishing. At reefs where Mars have implemented restoration in Indonesia, bomb fishing has been the primary cause of their initial destruction. Ben is also leading on a project which uses computer vision to track the progress of reef restoration from image data and other related work.
Ben strongly believes communicating conservation challenges and successes is key to progress in this area. If you’re interested to read more, take a lot at Ben's previous media interviews or blog posts below.
2023-2023 (6 months): Science Officer at Mars Inc
2022-present: Reef Conservation UK Committee Member
2021-present: PhD student at UCL and ZSL
2020-2021: Research Associate, University
2019-2021: MbyRes in Biological Sciences from the University of Exeter
2015-2019: BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences from the University of Exeter
Williams, B., Lamont, T.A., Chapuis, L., Harding, H.R., May, E.B., Prasetya, M.E., Seraphim, M.J., Jompa, J., Smith, D.J., Janetski, N. and Radford, A.N., 2022. Enhancing automated analysis of marine soundscapes using ecoacoustic indices and machine learning. Ecological Indicators, 140: 108986. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2022.108986
Lamont, T.A., Chapuis, L., Williams, B., Dines, S., Gridley, T., Frainer, G., Fearey, J., Maulana, P.B., Prasetya, M.E., Jompa, J. and Smith, D.J., 2022. HydroMoth: Testing a prototype low‐cost acoustic recorder for aquatic environments. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/rse2.249
Lamont, T.A., Williams, B., Chapuis, L., Prasetya, M.E., Seraphim, M.J., Harding, H.R., May, E.B., Janetski, N., Jompa, J., Smith, D.J. and Radford, A.N., 2022. The sound of recovery: Coral reef restoration success is detectable in the soundscape. Journal of Applied Ecology, 54: 742-756. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.14089
Williams, B., Chapuis, L., Gordon, T.A. and Simpson, S.D. Low-cost action cameras offer potential for widespread acoustic monitoring of marine ecosystems. 2021. Ecological Indicators. 129: 107957. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2021.107957
Mahesh, R., Saravanakumar, A., Thangaradjou, T., Solanki, H.U., Raman, M. and Williams, B. Seasonal and spatial variations of mesozooplankton energy transfer efficiency determined using remotely sensed SST and Chl-a in the Bay of Bengal. Regional Studies in Marine Science. 2020. 40: 101482. doi: 10.1016/j.rsma.2020.101482
Newspaper articles: Forbes; The Times; Reuters; South China Morning Post, EuroNews,
TV: 3sat Nano
Podcast appearances: Wall Street Journal; NiceGenes!
Radio interviews: The World US public radio. The Times Radio. BBC: NEWCASTLE Live, 3CR Live, WM Live, H&W Live, BERKSHIRE Live (Dec 2021). FM4 Austria.
- Mars data scientists turn their skills to coral reef restoration
The soundscapes of restored reefs
- Groundbreaking innovation from Mars coral reef restoration program wins no1 innovation award
- The growing scientific effort at Hope Reef
- Reefs don’t just look better after restoration – they also sound healthier
- Studying coral reef soundscapes with new kit and new questions
- Studying Reef Soundscapes During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Fashion’s Impact on the Marine Environment
- Investigating coral reef acoustics to aid reef restoration