Nicole Phillips

Dr Nicole Phillips profile picture

Associate Dean- Academic (International) School of Biological Sciences

Personal Bio

PhD University of California, Santa Barbara | BSc University of Washington

I grew up watching documentaries of Jacques Cousteau exploring the sea and knew I wanted to be a marine biologist from the age of 9. ;As an undergraduate I spent a lot of time at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories as a student as well as teaching and research assistant. My time and experiences there were very formative, especially working with Richard Strathmann who instilled in me a lifelong passion for larvae! I completed my PhD at the University of California Santa Barbara in 2002 under the supervision of Steve Gaines, them a postdoctoral fellowship at VUW funded by the US National Science Foundation, before joining the staff at VUW as a permanent staff member in 2006. I am also the Deputy Director of the Victoria University Coastal Ecology Laboratory (VUCEL).

Research interests

The broad framework for my research is the population and community ecology of benthic marine organisms in coastal systems. I am generally interested in, and work across, several fields of research encompassing rocky reef/intertidal ecology, recruitment, larval ecology, and invertebrate biology, but also including coral reef and seagrass systems. My work has often focused primarily (although not exclusively) on the ecology of reproduction and early life-history stages (e.g. eggs, larvae, early juveniles) of marine invertebrates. Marine invertebrates are well known for their diverse reproductive and developmental strategies, and these strategies have consequences for the ecology of organisms through influences on population dynamics and patterns of dispersal and recruitment, while also underpinning our understanding of life history evolution.

Early life stages are also particularly vulnerable to stress. For coastal marine organisms, anthropogenic drivers (e.g. climate change, sediment and pollutants from terrestrial run-off) may interact with each other and with natural drivers to affect organisms in unanticipated ways. I am especially interested in how factors or stresses that influence one life stage may have cryptic effects on subsequent life stages, as well as the potential interactive effects of multiple stressors.

For more details about my research programmes and information for prospective graduate students, View the Coastal Ecology and Larval Biology research group


Rouchon AM & Phillips NE. 2017. Short larval exposure to low level of copper has long-lasting latent effects on juvenile performance in the sea urchin Evechinus chloroticus. Marine Ecology Progress Series 579:67-79.

Carrasco SA, Phillips NE & Sewell MA. 2016. Maternal lipid provisioning mirrors evolution of reproductive strategies in direct-developing whelks. Biological Bulletin 230:188-196.

Phillips NE, Shima JS & Osenberg C. 2014. Live coral cover may provide resilience to damage from the vermetid gastropod Dendropoma maximum by preventing larval settlement. Coral Reefs 33:1137-1144.

Fischer J & Phillips NE. 2014. Carry-over effects of multiple stressors on benthic embryos are mediated by larval exposure to elevated UVB and temperature. Global Change Biology 20:2108-2116.

Morelissen B, Dudley BD, Geange SW & Phillips, NE. 2013. Gametophyte reproduction and development of Undaria pinnatifida under varied nutrient and light conditions. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 448:197-206.

van der Sman J, Phillips NE & Pfister CA. 2009. Relative effects of maternal and juvenile food availability for a marine snail. Ecology 90: 3119–3125.

Phillips NE & Shima J. 2006.  Differential effects of suspended sediments on larval survival and settlement of New Zealand urchins Evechinus chloroticus and abalone Haliotis iris.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 314:149-158.

View more publications at ResearchGate