Verena Tunnicliffe, FRSC

VT Forum sketchB.Sc. (McMaster University)
M.Phil. & Ph.D. (Yale University)
Emeritus Professor jointly appointed in the Department of Biology and the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria
Phone: 250 721-7135
Email: verenat [at]

My interests are very broad: I want to understand how the deep ocean biota work, and how they interact with their world. I love exploration and new discoveries as the deep sea continues to challenge our concepts of how Life works and its limits. As the human influence expands into the depths, it is now crucial to understand how our activities may change forever this last terrestrial frontier. Climate change, circulation change, microplastics, and deep sea mining are advancing.  Do we understand the consequences to make the wisest choices?

Professor Tunnicliffe at the Faces of UVic Research

Some Applied Contributions

  • Led three submissions forming the Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI)  responses to International Seabed Authority’s Framework for Regulatory Approaches to Deep Seabed Mining.
  • Conceived and directed development of the VENUS Cabled Observatory (~$26M) some components are now marketed worldwide by Oceanworks International in Vancouver.
  • As Canada Oceans Lecturer in 2011-12, gave 12 public lectures across Canada and internationally on ocean biodiversity.
  • Provide footage, images and interpretation for a multitude of outreach venues from museums, to textbooks to international broadcast agencies.
  • As a founding member of the Board of Directors, helped develop a teaching/outreach aquarium in Sidney, BC that has operated since 2009.
  • Provided targeted research results, interpretation and advice for the formation of the Endeavour Hot Vents MPA and the Mariana Trench & Islands National Monument.
  • Continue to work with NOAA in the US on vents in the Mariana Arc and Backarc to provide scientific advice for Monument management.

Current Advisory Roles

  • Appointment to Pool of Experts for the United Nations World Ocean Assessment
  • Advisory Board and Working Group Lead, Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative
  • Scientific Advisory Committee for Canadian Healthy Oceans Network Phase II –
    an NSERC Strategic Network partnership with Fisheries & Oceans Canada.
  • Board of Directors, Canadian Lake Pulse Network, NSERC Strategic.
  • International Science Advisory Board, Okinawa Institute of Technology, Japan.


1991        Fellow Royal Society of Canada
1992        National Research Council Canada Steacie Prize
1993        British Columbia Research Council Prize
2007        Fellow of the Explorers Club
2015        Honorary Citizen of Victoria
2015        Vancouver Aquarium Newman Award for Conservation & Research
2016        University of Victoria Turpin Gold Medal for Career Achievements
2019       Canadian Council of University Biology Chairs Award for Career Excellence
2019       Citizen Sponsor of the CCGS Sir John Frankling
[And there are ten deep-sea species named after me!]

Sericosura verenae

My favourite: the sea spider Sericosura verenae