Dr Oli Tills is a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow working as a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Plymouth, based at Plymouth Science Park. His work specialises in the early development of aquatic organisms and their environment, conducting groundbreaking research that advances our understanding of marine biology.

Having completed his PhD in Marine Science, Dr Tills was determined to continue his work and studies in Plymouth, a renowned hub for world-leading marine biology. The University of Plymouth and Plymouth Science Park have a close collaborative relationship, united in their mission to support innovative research and push the boundaries of knowledge, so offered an opportunity to continue his research in Plymouth, with the support of both organisations.


Researching aquatic embryos

In 2018, Dr Tills formed EmbryoPhenomics, a research group in the School of Biological and Marine Sciences at the University of Plymouth. This pioneering group focuses on understanding the early stages of marine animal development and their responses to environmental factors, such as climate change and chemicals.


By investigating the impact over time, EmbryoPhenomics is leading the way in developing novel techniques for measuring the most sensitive life stages in a changing world.

Dr Tills and his team are at the forefront of developing next-generation technologies for measuring the responses of animals during their embryonic development to the natural world. As part of their collaboration with Plymouth Science Park, they are bringing together robotics, 3D printing and artificial intelligence to revolutionise the way researchers can study animals at the earliest stages of life. This innovative approach aims to move away from traditional manual microscope-based observations, and embrace automation.


“One of the key advantages to us of being located at Plymouth Science Park is the wealth of resources, expertise and spaces available to support our research, innovation and to foster exciting new developments. The environment is conducive to supporting an ambitious programme of innovative research, drawing on next-generation approaches to manufacture, image analysis and big data analytics. From designing solutions in CAD, to 3D printing them, and having the support and space to manufacture and sell our inventions, Plymouth Science Park delivers.”

Dr Oli Tills, UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, Founder of EmbryoPhenomics and Plymouth Science Park’s Researcher in Residence


Embracing their commitment to education and outreach, EmbryoPhenomics actively engages with local schools, colleges, and universities, to inspire the next generation of scientists and researchers. During the challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic, the team devised a citizen science experiment, which involved over 4,000 participants worldwide, including classrooms, drawing and measuring embryos in a global scientific project to train increasingly powerful predictive models.

In his role as a researcher in residence, Dr Tills collaborates closely with the leadership team at Plymouth Science Park, contributing to their shared goal of supporting groundbreaking research and innovation. Driven by a belief in collaboration, EmbryoPhenomics welcomes partnerships with companies and institutions that share their vision. Their evolving technologies have the potential to assist engineers and researchers in the field of biology, shaping new approaches to the study of developmental processes.

Through the valuable work of Dr Oli Tills and EmbryoPhenomics, Plymouth Science Park continues to reinforce its position as a catalyst for cutting-edge research and a hub for scientific excellence.


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