Dr Bingzhang Chen

Strathclyde Chancellor's Fellow

Mathematics and Statistics

Personal statement

My academic career has undergone an unusual transition from empirical research to modeling in the field of biological oceanography. Supervised by Dr. Hongbin Liu, I obtained my PhD in Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2009, focusing on field experiments of zooplankton grazing. Then I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Mount Alison University, Canada and my main task was to analyze the global patterns of diversity and size of dinoflagellate cysts. I improved my statistical skills thanks to my supervisors Dr. Andrew Irwin and Zoe Finkel.


In 2011, I obtained the position of Associate Professor at Xiamen University. From 2011-2015, I had secured grants with the total budgets of £300K as a Principal Investigator from the National Science Foundation of China and other funding sources. As a Co-Principal investigator, I was also deeply involved in a China National Basic Research Program (“973” Program) entitled “Carbon cycling in China Seas-budget, controls and ocean acidification (CHOICE-C project)” led by Prof. Minhan Dai. In 2012, I was awarded the New Century Excellent Talent by the Ministry of Education of China. In 2015, I was awarded the David Cushing prize offered by the Journal of Plankton Research. During this period, I supervised four master students.

In 2015, I left Xiamen University and joined Japan Agency of Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC). Part of the reason for this change was that I felt it necessary to obtain formal training on ocean modeling and JAMSTEC was a wonderful place for this goal. Besides my main work on a CREST project (PI: S. Lan Smith) funded by Japan Science and Technology Agency, I acquired a research grant worthy of £27.4K from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) as a Principal Investigator in 2016. After I worked for nearly four years in Japan, I moved to the University of Strathclyde. Currently, I am supervising two PhD students and have recruited a new PhD student in 2020 to tackle the puzzle of high phytoplankton diversity in the subtropical ocean desert. 


Currently, I am serving as an associate editor for the journal of Progress in Oceanography.



What controls microzooplankton biomass and herbivory rate across marginal seas of China? Quantifying microzooplankton grazing and biomass
Liu Kailin, Chen Bingzhang, Zheng Liping, Su Suhong, Huang Bangqin, Chen Mianrun, Liu Hongbin
Limnology and Oceanography (2020)
Responses of marine phytoplankton communities to environmental changes : new insights from a niche classification scheme
Xiao Wupeng, Laws Edward A, Xie Yuyuan, Wang Lei, Liu Xin, Chen Jixin, Chen Bingzhang, Huang Bangqin
Water Research Vol 166 (2019)
Stimulation of heterotrophic and autotrophic metabolism in the mixing zone of the Kuroshio Current and northern South China Sea : implications for export production
Huang Yibin, Laws Edward, Chen Bingzhang, Huang Bangqin
Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences Vol 124, pp. 2645-2661 (2019)
Potential overestimation of community respiration in the western Pacific boundary ocean : what causes the putative net heterotrophy in oligotrophic systems?
Huang Yibin, Chen Bingzhang, Huang Bangqin, Zhou Hui, Yuan Yongquan
Limnology and Oceanography Vol 64, pp. 2202-2219 (2019)
Marine phytoplankton in subtropical coastal waters showing lower thermal sensitivity than microzooplankton
Liu Kailin, Chen Bingzhang, Zhang Shuwen, Sato Mitsuhide, Shi Zhiyuan, Liu Hongbin
Limnology and Oceanography Vol 64, pp. 1103-1119 (2019)
Modeling the combined effects of physiological flexibility and micro-scale variability for plankton ecosystem dynamics
Smith S Lan, Mandal Sandip, Priyadarshi Anupam, Chen Bingzhang, Yamazaki Hidekatsu
Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences (2019) (2019)

more publications

Research interests

The primary focus of my research is how biodiversity affects marine ecosystem functioning such as primary production and biological carbon pump, for which the primary producers particularly phytoplankton play the pivotal role. The main questions I ask are:


i) What are the main patterns of functional traits, diversity, biomass, and productivity of primary producers including phytoplankton and macroalgae in the ocean?


ii)  What are the main processes determining these patterns?


iii) What are the fundamental roles of diversity on ecosystem functioning?


One specific question that has been intriguing me during the past several years is whether there exists a difference of temperature sensitivity between autotrophs and heterotrophs. While this appears a simple/trivial question, I have found that it can be a central theme linking statistics (regression), ecology (Metabolic Theory of Ecology and trait-based approaches), and earth sciences (biological pump and Glacial/inter-glacial CO2 fluctuations).

Professional activities

Acclimation of plankton
A machine-learning approach to modelling abundances of the smallest phytoplankton in the South China Sea
Global Ecology and Biogeography (Journal)
Peer reviewer
Progress in Oceanography (Journal)
Associate Editor
Trait variance leads to the spurious higher temperature sensitivity of heterotrophs than autotrophs
Hong Kong Branch of the Guangdong Southern Marine Science and Engineering Laboratory (Guangzhou) (External organisation)

more professional activities


Modelling phytoplankton diversity and productivity across the South China Sea continental slope
Chen, Bingzhang (Principal Investigator)
04-Jan-2019 - 31-Jan-2022
Global warming, plankton functional diversity, and the biological ocean pump
Chen, Bingzhang (Principal Investigator) Banas, Neil (Principal Investigator)
This project aims to understand the roles of plankton functional diversity on the biological ocean pump, a key process of the global carbon cycle, within the context of global warming.
We focus on the vast oligotrophic open ocean and our objective is to combine model development and observational data to address the key questions below:
What types of plankton functional traits will be the most important for primary production and carbon export?
What are the patterns of plankton functional diversity in the oligotrophic open ocean?
How will warming affect both plankton functional diversity and carbon export?
01-Jan-2019 - 01-Jan-2022
Life history and dispersal of the alien seaweed Sargassum muticum in Scottish coastal waters: an individual-based modelling approach
Chen, Bingzhang (Principal Investigator) Blight, Andrew (Co-investigator) Paterson, David (Co-investigator)
This project will address the key factors driving the expansion of the invasive seaweed Sargassum muticum in Scottish coastal waters. As invasive species tend to have negative impacts on key ecosystem services such as aquaculture, recreation and marine transportation, elucidating the mechanisms that lead to the successful invasion of Sargassum muticum will contribute to our understanding of Sargassum muticum expansion and may allow management to preserve the key ecosystem services of our coastal seas.
01-Jan-2019 - 31-Jan-2023
Warming up the arm race: how temperature affects interactions between phytoplankton and microzooplankton
Chen, Bingzhang (Principal Investigator) Menden-Deuer, Susanne (Visiting Academic)
This is a travel grant supported by FILAMO, University of Bergen, Norway. The main aim is to construct a trait-based model of both phytoplankton and microzooplankton that can incorporate the observed patterns of thermal traits and can reproduce the patterns of both trait identity and diversity of plankton.
01-Jan-2019 - 31-Jan-2020

more projects


Mathematics and Statistics
Livingstone Tower

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