Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI) | EMBRC

Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI)


The University of St Andrews was founded by Papal Bulls in 1411 and 1413 and is the third oldest seat of learning in the English speaking world. Marine Biology was established within the University by William Carmichael McIntosh FRS with the formation of the St Andrews Fisheries Laboratory in 1884 and the Gatty Marine Laboratory in 1895. The NERC Sea Mammal Research Unit joined in 1996 and in 2009, the Gatty Marine Laboratory was merged with all the marine science activities across the University to form the Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI).

Mission and research:

The mission of the SOI is to bring together people, interdisciplinary skills and support scientific services necessary to deliver world class research in marine sciences. The SOI comprises more than 200 researchers from the Schools of Biology, Geography and Geosciences and Mathematics and Statistics. The main research topics are marine mammal biology, coastal ecology, marine genomics, fish physiology, biogeochemistry, biomineralisation in relation to climate change, biodiversity, behaviour, evolution and development, virology, the estimation of population abundance and statistical modeling.

Marine facilities:

SOI has the largest experimental facility for marine mammal research in Europe and extensive saltwater and freshwater aquaria in its coastal facility on the East Sands, St Andrews Bay.

Several in shore boats are operated mostly in support of marine mammal research.


The SOI is an integral part of a research intensive University with state-of the-art laboratories in biology, chemistry, geosciences and physics.


The University houses the Scottish Structural Proteomics Facility with world class facilities for structural biology including X-ray diffraction, mass spectroscopy, NMR etc. There are also excellent analytical and imaging facilities.

Main marine models:

Grey and Common Seals, Atlantic salmon, polychaetes (Pomatoceros) and corals.

Special partnerships:

Scottish Funding Council, NERC, BBSRC

Research topics: 
  1. Developmental and evolutionary genomics
  2. Ecology, fisheries and resource management
  3. Global change and planetary evolution
  4. Sea mammal research
  5. Ecological and environmental modelling