School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Sofia Franco

Knowledge Exchange Fellow in Aquaculture


***from the 24th of September 2018 I will be moving to the Scottish Association of Marine Science. Please contact me directly at after that date***


Sofia is an Aquaculture Knowledge Exchange Fellow, funded by NERC, working with the UK aquaculture community, providing expert input to the UK Aquaculture Network and contributing to the development of the UK Aquaculture Initiative. She works across NERC and BBSRC R&I communities in HE institutions and research organisations, engaging closely with a range of businesses to enable uptake of NERC-BBSRC research and identifying knowledge prioritisation needs. Besides knowledge exchange and public engagement, Sofia is interested on the application of aquaculture to resource management, as well as towards international development and poverty alleviation.

Focus on applied aquaculture ranges from larviculture, culture of new species and integrated multi-trophic aquaculture. She has investigated the production of calanoid copepods at high densities in the University of Bergen, and her PhD work in Newcastle University aimed at the development of the aquaculture of stalked barnacles (Pollipes pollicipes). Past work focused on antifouling research and bioadhesion of barnacles and algae, as well as various projects on the biological and economic viability of the nearshore aquaculture of stalked barnacles in Portugal.

Current work focuses on investigating public perception of aquaculture and communication/feedback pathways, mapping the UK aquaculture sector and improving research-industry connectivity, multifunctional landscapes, valuation of ecosystem services linked to aquaculture, improving marine spatial planning and informing aquaculture-relevant policy.  

Google Scholar profile; ORCID ID


Ph.D. Marine Science (Newcastle University) 2014
M.Sc. Aquaculture and Fisheries (Algarve University) 2009
B.Sc. Biology - Marine Biology (Lisbon University) 2007

Employment history

2016-2019: Knowledge Exchange Fellow, Newcastle University (NERC-BBSRC funded; Sep. 2016 to Dec. 2019)
2017-2017: Valuing Nature Placement Holder at the Marine Management Organisation, Newcastle University (VN funded)
2014-2016: Research Associate, Newcastle University (US ONR and Innovate UK funded)

Grants awarded

(2018) N8-Pump Priming Award - Research project, 12 months (£10k)
(2017) Valuing Nature Programme - Valuing Nature Placement, 4 months (£20k)
(2017) Global Food Security Programme - Report for GFS, 6 months (£5k)
(2016) BBSRC-NERC Aquaculture Directed Knowledge Exchange Fellowship, 3 years (£204k).
(2016) NERC - Leadership training bursary (£8.5k).
(2009) Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT, Portugal) - Ph.D. Scholarship, 4 years (€130k).

Professional Memberships

European Aquaculture Society (2010 - )
Royal Society of Biology (2015 - )
Society of Experimental Biology (2015 - )
British Ecological Society (2017 - )

Honours and Awards

(2017) British Ecological Society Award Parliamentary Shadowing Scheme.
(2013) Winner of the science engagement competition “I am a scientist, get me out of here!” - Ecology Zone.
(2012) Travel grant (European Aquaculture Society – Student Group) for participation on the international conference AQUA 2012 (Prague, Czech Republic).
(2012) Award of Best Student Presentation (Stage 2) in the Postgraduate Conference of the School of Marine Science and Technology (Newcastle University).
(2009) Merit scholarship, awarded by the University of Algarve (Faro, Portugal).
(2009) ERASMUS scholarship, for developing part of the M.Sc. studies at Bergen University (Bergen, Norway).

Area of Expertise

Aquaculture, Marine Spatial planning, Knowledge Exchange


Current projects

  • Towards improved communication in aquaculture: exploring consumer's perceptions and attitudes (June 2018 - June 2019; N8 Research Partnership; Franco, PI). Team: S.C. Franco (PI, Newcastle University); S. Kuznesof (Newcastle University), P. Jackson (University of Sheffield).

  • Aquaculture Knowledge Exchange Fellowship (Sep 2016 - Dez 2019; BBSRC-NERC; Franco, PI)

  • Multi-functional landscapes: making theory practice (May 2018 - Oct 2019; GFS; Franco, PI): report commissioned by the Global Food Security programme. Team: S.C. Franco (PI, Newcastle University), R. O'Connor (University of Reading), R. Wade and B. Keane (University of Sheffield), A. Scott-Brown (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew).

  • Aquaculture of stalked barnacles (Pollicipes pollicipes) in Portugal: research project (Aquapollis ; 2016-2019; Portugal 2020; Cruz, PI).  Team: Cruz (CIEMAR), Fragoso, Castro, Jacinto, Fernandes, Seabra, Silva, Pombo (Instituto Politecnico de Leiria), Franco (Newcastle University), Clare (Newcastle University)

Past projects

  • Identifying evidence needs for modelling and valuing aquaculture potential in marine plan areas (April - July 2017; Valuing Nature - NERC; Franco, PI): Valuing Nature placement with the Marine Management Organisation.
  • Laboratory measures of the settlement behavior of barnacles and algae (2014-2016; US Office of Naval Research; Clare & Aldred, PIs)
  • Development of a novel high performance foul-release coating for marine applications (2014-2016; Innovate UK; Clare, PI)
  • Aquapollis: Biological and economical viability of the aquaculture of stalked barnacles (Pollicipes pollicipes) in Portugal (2014-2016; FCT/QREN; Cruz, PI). Team: Cruz (CIEMAR), Fragoso, Castro, Silva, Jacinto, Fernandes, Franco (Newcastle University)
  • Aquaculture of stalked barnacles (Pollicipes pollicipes) (2010-2014; FCT; PhD grant awarded to Franco)Supervisors: Clare (Newcastle University), Aldred (Newcastle University), Cruz (CIEMAR/ Universidade de Evora)