Colin Thackray

Ph.D., Atmospheric Chemistry

2017-2019 Harvard University

Research Associate, Biogeochemistry and Global Contaminants Group (Harvard University)

Colin Thackray is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, with a background in numerical modeling of atmospheric physics and chemistry. He is developing a modeling framework to trace anthropogenic emissions (to the atmosphere and oceans) of toxicants such as mercury through the physical environment into marine food webs to assess the toxicants’ effects on fisheries health and sustainability. This framework will also help project future fisheries sustainability under changing fishing/climate/emissions.


Schartup, A.T., Thackray, C.P., Qureshi, A., Dassuncao, C., Gillespie, K., Hanke, A. & Sunderland, E.M. (2019). Climate change and overfishing increase neurotoxicant in marine predators. Nature, 2019. DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1468-9 link

By Colin Thackray, Nereus Fellow at Harvard University

The oceans are very expansive. Their enormous size and distance from where people stay long term presents a challenge for scientists monitoring the oceans. Unlike many atmospheric measurements for meteorology which we can make just outside of cities, often at airports, to get good measurements for ocean science, a journey on the sea is often required. Around the world, there are many ships designed or outfitted specifically for bringing scientists to the ocean – so called Research Vessels (RVs).

July 25, 2017

Nereus fellow Colin Thackray (Harvard University) discusses how toxic methylmercury (MeHg) bioaccumulates within marine food webs, beginning with phytoplankton and zooplankton. This ultimately leads to some larger marine predators, such as fish, having much higher MeHg concentrations than the surrounding seawater.

October 2, 2018 | FisheriesEcology

Colin Thackray (Harvard University) and Elsie Sunderland (Harvard University) are co-authors with others on a new publication that models how climate change and overfishing are contributing to the bioaccumulation of neurotoxin methylmercury (MeHg) in top ocean predators, some of which are commonly consumed species of seafood.

August 7, 2019 | Climate ChangeFisheries

Leah Burrows (Science and Technology Communications Officer) of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) wrote an article about Elsie Sunderland’s and Colin Thackray’s recent publication on methylmercury bioaccumulation in marine predators for The Harvard Gazette.

An updated summary of Colin Thackray (Harvard University), Elsie Sunderland (Harvard University), et al.’s paper that models how climate change and overfishing are contributing to the bioaccumulation of neurotoxin methylmercury (MeHg) in top ocean predators.