Skip to content
Dr Frances E. Hopkins

Dr Frances E. Hopkins

Marine biogeochemist

fhop6/9/2023 6:37:05    |     +44 (0)1752 633100 (switchboard)
"Although invisible to the eye and detectable by us as only a slight odour on the sea breeze, DMS influences vital cloud formation processes, helping to naturally regulate Earth’s climate. After 15 years researching the production of DMS by tiny microbes in the surface ocean, I’m still amazed and inspired by this!"

Frances began her career at PML in 2009, following completion of her PhD under the supervision of Prof Peter Liss at the University of East Anglia. Her research focuses on the production of key marine trace gases in the surface ocean, primarily dimethyl sulfide (DMS) and halocarbons. Understanding the processes that lead to the production of these gases is critical to accurately predicting their flux to the atmosphere, and ultimately modelling the impact they have on Earth’s climate. Her research has tackled diverse angles of this topic, including the influence of ocean acidification on marine trace gas production, the production of DMS by corals during air exposure, the influence of DMS on the palatability of microplastics to copepods, as well as studies directly focusing on the marine biogeochemical production and cycling of DMS.

Frances’ research has involved regular sea-going and land-based expeditions (Norway, Svalbard, the Mauritania upwelling system, the NW European shelf, Arctic Ocean, Southern Ocean). Now with two young children to care for, her recent research has focused closer to home, on lab-based studies that make use of PML’s world-leading Western Channel Observatory, including the long-term marine time series station L4 and the Penlee Point Atmospheric Observatory.

Her recent and ongoing research includes three NERC funded projects on various aspects of marine DMS cycling: “Microbial degradation of DMSO in seawater”, “ A multidisciplinary study of DMSP production and lysis – from enzymes to organisms to process modelling”, and “Is bacterial DMS consumption dependent on methylamines in marine waters?”, all of which tackle individual parts of the complex web of biogeochemical DMS production and cycling in seawater. Via two recently funded projects, she will explore the potential importance of terrestrial DMSP production to global sulfur cycling with UEA collaborators Dr Ben Miller (Earth's coolest organsulfur molecule: understanding how agriculture can be more cooling to the climate, NERC/BBSRC) and Prof Jonathan Todd (Terrestrial DMSP: the forgotten source, NERC).

Frances is an active member of PML’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity Committee and was previously co-chair of PML’s Athena SWAN working group (2017-2022), a committee which drove forward gender equality initiatives at PML. She led PML’s successful application for Bronze accreditation in 2017. She is committed to supporting all staff and students to reach their full potential, and particularly those that face additional challenges relating to gender or other protected characteristics.

Frances also plays a key role in the Environmental Management Team, contributing to the development of PML’s environmental strategy, with a particular interest in developing PML’s strategy to achieve net zero carbon. She co-manages the LEAF initiative at PML (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework), working with lab managers across the organisation to improve the sustainability and efficiency of laboratories.

FE Hopkins, SM Turner, PD Nightingale, M Steinke, D Bakker, PS Liss (2009) Ocean acidification and marine trace gas emissions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 107, 760. doi:10.1073/pnas.0907163107

SD Archer, SA Kimmance, JA Stephens, FE Hopkins, R Bellerby, K Schulz (2013) Contrasting responses to ocean acidification of DMS and its precursor DMSP in Arctic waters. Biogeosciences, 10, 1893–1908. doi:10.5194/bg-10-1893-2013

FE Hopkins, TG Bell, M Yang, DJ Suggett, M Steinke (2016). Air exposure of coral is a significant source of dimethylsulfide (DMS) to the atmosphere. Scientific Reports, doi:10.1038/srep36031.

J Procter, FE Hopkins, E Fileman, P Lindeque (2019) Smells Good Enough To Eat: Dimethylsulfide (DMS) Enhances Copepod Ingestion Rate of Microplastics. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 138, 1–6. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.11.014

Recent publications

View more publications on our repository