Gustaaf was born in 1949 in the Netherlands. A childhood gift of a toy microscope got him interested in microscopic plankton at an early age, his compatriot Anton van Leeuwenhoek became his all-time hero and he enrolled at the University of Amsterdam at age 17 with the single-minded purpose to study plankton. He was awarded a PhD from the University of Amsterdam in 1976 for a thesis on Pigment diversity, Biomass and Species Diversity of Phytoplankton of three Dutch lakes (supervisors Profs Joop Ringelberg and Chris van den Hoek). When later in life joining the University of Tasmania in Australia he was awarded a D.Sc. degree from that institution in 2002.


2014 Yasumoto Lifetime Achievement Award by 16th Int Conf Harmful Algae; 2012 Vice Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Research and Research Training; 2005 elected Fellow of Australian Academy Technological Sciences and Engineering; 2004 Eureka Prize for Environmental Research; 2004 Tyge Christensen Prize, International Phycological Society; 2003 Presidents Prize, International Institute of Marine Engineers; 2001 Faculty Research Excellence award, University of Tasmania; 1991 Senior Fullbright Fellowship award.

Professional Career

Upon completion of his PhD, in 1978 Gustaaf was awarded a 10 months Dutch fellowship to work with Shirley Jeffrey at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Cronulla, Australia, to further his skills in chromatographic pigment analyses. He simply never left Australia, rose to the level of Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO and gradually turned his interest to Australia-wide marine phytoplankton taxonomy using newly acquired skills in electron microscopy learned at Sydney University. Feeling stifled working in a government research institute, in 1992 he moved to the University of Tasmania, where he served as Head of the School of Plant Science for 6 years and became a full Professor in 2005. In 2010 Gustaaf helped to create the new Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) at the University of Tasmania which heralded his interest in HABs and global climate change.

Key contributions

When in 1984 Gustaaf’s position was compulsory transferred from Sydney to Hobart, it was in his very first Tasmanian plankton tows that he encountered a dense bloom of the PST dinoflagellate Gymnodinium catenatum. This got him into culturing and life cycle studies (with Sue Blackburn)toxicology (with Profs Oshima and Yasumoto),and led to his proposition that this organism represented a ship ballast water introduction (genetics with Chris Bolch, sediment cyst core studies with Andrew McMinn). In 1989 BHP shipping engineers Geoff Rigby and Alan Taylor joined the effort to try and find a solution for the problem of transport of dinoflagellates via ship ballast water, pioneering the application of mid-ocean ballast water exchange on RV Iron Whyalla as well as demonstrating the potential of ballast water heat treatment. During this time Gustaaf was also involved in helping draft the early versions of the 2004 International Maritime Organisation’s Ballast Water Convention which is expected to come into force in 2015. For this Rigby, Taylor and Hallegraeff were jointly awarded the 2003 Presidents Prize by the International Institute of Marine Engineers and later the prestigious 2004 Eureka Prize for Environmental Research.

Gustaaf’s 1993 review in Phycologia, “A review of harmful algal blooms and their apparent global increase” (1200+ cites), is the most cited paper within the HAB field. His interests are wide ranging also covering Alexandrium, Chattonella, Dinophysis, Gambierdiscus, Karenia, Karlodinium, Pseudo-nitzschia, Takayama (created with Miguel de Salas) and Vulcanodinium, and more recently ocean acidification and coccolithophorids, and dust storms and fungal pathogens. In the last years he has put a special focus on fish killing algae and the relationship between HABs and climate change.

Gustaaf has served the broader HAB community by authoring and editing HAB methods and identification guides and state-of-the-art science books such as the UNESCO HAB Manual (2003), a best seller within IOC publications and a must for any HAB library. He hosted the successful 9th ICHA Conference in Hobart 2000 which exhibited a combination of excellent scientific programme and beautifully displayed HAB-art and theatre exhibitions. His artistic approach to microalgae photography has been well expressed in some of his popular books (e.g. Plankton: A Microscopic World1988). Gustaaf has played an active role in ISSHA since its establishment in 2000, now serving as Vice-President and Chair of the Publication and Dissemination Committee.


Penny Ajani, Susan Blackburn, Chris Bolch, Suellen Cook, Joanna Cubillos, Miguel de Salas, Martina Doblin, Juan Dorantes, Matthew Gregg, Lucy Harlow, Aiko Hayashi, Jeannie-Marie LeRoi, Graeme Lush, Judi Marshall, Jorge Mardones, Ben Mooney, Shauna Murray, Imogen Pearce, Kate Perkins, Tae Guy Park, Matilde Ravizza, Andreas Seger, Glenn Wallace.

10 Key publications

Anderson, D.M., Cembella, A.D. & Hallegraeff, G.M. (1998) (eds). Physiological ecology of Harmful Algal Blooms. Proc. NATO-ASI Workshop, Bermuda, 662 pp.

Blackburn, S.I., Bolch, C.J., Haskard, K.A. & Hallegraeff, G.M. (2001). Reproductive compatibility among four global populations of the toxic dinoflagellate Gymnodinium catenatum. Phycologia 40, 78-87

Hallegraeff, G.M. (1993). A review of harmful algal blooms and their apparent global increase. Phycologia 32, 79 -99.

Hallegraeff, G.M (2010). Ocean climate change, phytoplankton community responses and harmful algal blooms: a formidable predictive challenge. J. Phycology 46, 220-235

Hallegraeff, G.M., Anderson, DM & Cembella, A.D. (2003) (eds). Manual on Harmful Marine Microalgae. UNESCO Monographs on Oceanographic Methodology, vol.11, UNESCO. Paris, 792 pp.

Hallegraeff, G.M. & Bolch, C.J. (1992). Transport of diatom and dinoflagellate resting spores in ships' ballast water: Implications for plankton biogeography and aquaculture. J. Plankton Res. 14 , 1067-1084

Hallegraeff, G.M. & MacLean, J.L. (eds) (1989). Biology, Epidemiology and Management of Pyrodinium bahamense red tides. ICLARM conference proceedings 21, 286 pp.

Marshall, J.A., Nichols, P.D., Hamilton, B., Lewis, R.J. & Hallegraeff, G.M. (2003). Ichthyotoxicity of Chattonella marina (Raphidophyceae) to damselfish (Acanthochromis polycanthus): the synergistic role of reactive oxygen species and free fatty acids. Harmful Algae 2, 273-281.

Oshima, Y., Hasegawa, K., Yasumoto, T., Hallegraeff, G.M. & Blackburn, S.I. (1987). Dinoflagellate Gymnodinium catenatum as the source of paralytic shellfish toxins in Tasmanian shellfish. Toxicon 25, 1105-1111.

Scholin, C., Hallegraeff, G.M. & Anderson, D.M. (1995). Molecular evolution of the Alexandrium tamarense "species complex." (Dinophyceae) and their dispersal in the North American and West Pacific regions. Phycologia 34, 472-485.