Ken Ryan

Ken Ryan

Job Title

Senior Lecturer


The focus of my recent research has been on the effect of climate change on the growth and productivity of Antarctic marine algae. These studies have involved the use of high-tech oxygen microelectrodes and PAM fluorometers, to measure in situ the primary productivity of sea ice algae that grow on the underside of Antarctic sea ice. This work has been extended to the bacterial component of sea ice with the work of my MSc (now PhD) student, Andrew Martin. Simon Davy (Ecophysiology) has joined my Antarctic team. The Antarctic physiology techniques naturally extend to the symbiotic relationships between algae and invertebrates (anemones and corals) in collaboration with Dr Simon Davy (SBS). The effect of UV radiation on land plants has been a focus, utilizing a specially designed “ultraviolator” plastic house for the treatment of plants with enhanced UVB solar radiation. The role of bio-active compounds such as bioflavonoids in the protection of plants from the deleterious effects of UVB has been examined. With the appointment of a post doctoral fellow in the SBS, I hope to revitalize and extend this work into new areas including the chemosystematics of higher plants, and to this technology to the study of evolution in Hebe. In the late 1980’s a network of UVB radiometers was set up in centres of population in New Zealand. I became involved in this project in the early 1990s and extended it to allow real time broadcasting of actual UV burn-times over local radio stations. Data are recorded, calibrated, archived, and periodically published. Several papers on electron microscope features of a number of species of algae have been published in collaboration with botanists at Te Papa and NIWA.

  • Climate change biology Symbiosis in temperate invertebrates Flavonoids in higher plants – responses to UVB radiation Biological electron microscopy and taxonomy, especially toxic dinoflagellates Light microscopy including phase contrast, fluorescence, and confocal. UV radiometry