PhD Student
Marine biology
Biodiversity monitoring
Environmental DNA
Coral Reefs
Contact details

Institute of Zoology
Zoological Society of London

Rosie's research interests include applying and developing molecular methods such as eDNA and nsDNA for biodiversity monitoring in coral reef ecosystems.

Techniques involving environmental DNA (eDNA) and natural sampler DNA (nsDNA) have the potential to transform marine monitoring as they allow non-invasive sampling, require minimal pre-training, and overcome the bottleneck of laborious taxonomic identification. DNA from across all domains of life can be identified using these techniques, by applying universal PCR primers to amplify DNA from a range of organisms. 

Rosie Dowell

Specifically, Rosie's PhD project aims to investigate the biodiversity and community structure of plankton and macrofaunal communities (e.g. corals) on coral reefs within the Chagos Archipelago, Indian Ocean, using eDNA. Due to its location, the Chagos Archipelago is likely to be connected via planktonic dispersion to other shallow reefs in the Indian Ocean and act as an important ‘stepping-stone’ for marine organisms. With this data, the project will aim to describe the broad taxonomic diversity present throughout the archipelago over multiple years and atolls and inform on suitable methods for future monitoring in the area. 

This project forms part of a larger 4-year project investigating the marine biodiversity of understudied fauna in the Chagos Archipelago, funded by the Bertarelli Program for Marine Science. This project is also supported by CASE partner NatureMetrics, an exciting start-up using DNA-based techniques to monitor biodiversity and involved in the standardisation of eDNA methods.

Professional history

2020-present: PhD student at ZSL and Imperial College London, Science and Solutions for a changing Planet (SSCP DTP)

2017-2018: Graduate intern at Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences

2014-2019: MSci in Marine and Freshwater Biology at the University of Glasgow


Steyaert, M., Mogg, A., Dunn, N., Dowell, R. and Head, C.E., 2022. Observations of coral and cryptobenthic sponge fluorescence and recruitment on autonomous reef monitoring structures (ARMS). Coral Reefs, 41(4), pp.877-883.

Goodbody-Gringley, G., Chequer, A., Grincavitch, C., Noyes, T., Dowell, R., Lundberg, A., Corbett, E. and Smith, A., 2023. Impacts of recurrent culling of invasive lionfish on mesophotic reefs in Bermuda. Coral Reefs, 42(2), pp.443-452.