Arjun Chennu

Dr. Arjun Chennu

Working Group Leader

Phone: +49 (0)421 23800 - 42

Fax: +49 (0)421 23800 - 30

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Office: Fahrenheitstr. 8
28359 Bremen
Room: 3203 (2nd floor)

Research interests

I am a scientist and an inventor who makes maps of natural habitats. My educational trajectory enabled me to be a physicist, engineer, microbiologist, scientific diver and data scientist along the way. For my scientific research, I bring these perspectives into play along with my deep personal interest in nature conservation and technology.

Over the last decade, I have built tools, instruments and analytics so that we can make better maps of coastal ecosystems. I developed hyperspectral imaging methods for use on beaches, lab benches, microbial crusts, sea-ice, coral reefs and more. I designed and developed the HyperDiver, the first diver-operated hyperspectral surveying system. Along with boosting the scale of ecosystem observations, I have worked on the scale of analytic throughput by developing artificial intelligence techniques to support habitat mapping efforts. Through these efforts, we've created the most detailed and dense maps of coral reef habitats to date.


Habitat mapping and environmental description
Machine learning and deep learning
Spectral imaging and physics
Dynamical and computational modeling
Benthic photosynthesis and ecology
Underwater and in-situ instrumentation
Scientific diving
Scientific software development


2006 : Bachelor of Technology in Engineering physics, Indian Institute of Technology Madras

2008: Erasmus Mundus Master of Science in Photonics (Belgium and Scotland)

2012: European Scientific Diver, AIOSS

2014: PhD, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen

2017: Advanced European Scientific Diver, AIOSS




  • Possible link between Earth's rotation rate and oxygenation. Using numerical modeling and lab measurements, we demonstrated a mechanistic link between the length of day on Earth, which is influenced by the Moon, and the amount of oxygen exported by ground-dwelling bacteria. This daylength effect was likely a significant driver of oxygenation of the early Earth, and may help expain the much-debated pattern of oxygenation of Earth.
  • Hermann Neuhaus Prize from the Max Planck Society. In 2018, the Max Planck Foundation and the Hermann Neuhaus Foundation bestowed the first ever Hermann Neuhaus Prize in recognition of achievements towards marine habitat mapping with the invention of the HyperDiver and supporting a spin-off company.
  • Annette Barthelt Prize for best dissertation. In 2016, I received the Annette-Barthelt-Stiftung's prize for best doctoral dissertation in marine sciences.
  • Articles about HyperDiver
    • Article in Mongabay
    • Article in Ocean Bites about HyperDiver
    • Article in Innovations Report
    • Article in Nature news
    • Article in "Research Success Stories" by the European Commission
    • Article on TARA Oceans: French Polynesia expedition
    • Article in MIT German Technology Review
    • Article in

Key Publications

Google scholar: Arjun Chennu

  • Haag, F. & Chennu, A. Assessing whether decisions are more sensitive to preference or prediction uncertainty with a value of information approach. Omega 121, 102936 (2023). doi: 10.1016/

  • Schürholz, D. & Chennu, A. Digitizing the coral reef: Machine learning of underwater spectral images enables dense taxonomic mapping of benthic habitats. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 2023, 14, 496-613, doi:10.1111/2041-210X.14029.
  • Klatt, J.M*.; Chennu, A*.; Arbic, B.K.; Biddanda, B.A.; Dick, G.J. Possible Link between Earth’s Rotation Rate and Oxygenation. Nat. Geosci. 2021, doi:10.1038/s41561-021-00784-3.
  • Cimoli, E.; Lucieer, V.; Meiners, K.M.; Chennu, A.; Castrisios, K.; Ryan, K.G.; Lund-Hansen, L.C.; Martin, A.; Kennedy, F.; Lucieer, A. Mapping the in Situ Microspatial Distribution of Ice Algal Biomass through Hyperspectral Imaging of Sea-Ice Cores. Scientific Reports 2020, 10, 21848, doi:10.1038/s41598-020-79084-6.
  • Rashid, A.R.; Chennu, A. A Trillion Coral Reef Colors: Deeply Annotated Underwater Hyperspectral Images for Automated Classification and Habitat Mapping. Data 2020, 5, 19, doi:10.3390/data5010019.
  • Chennu, A. MicroBenthos: A Modeling Framework for Microbial Benthic Ecology. JOSS 2018, 3, 674, doi:10.21105/joss.00674.
  • Chennu, A.; Färber, P.; De’ath, G.; Beer, D. de; Fabricius, K.E. A Diver-Operated Hyperspectral Imaging and Topographic Surveying System for Automated Mapping of Benthic Habitats. Scientific Reports 2017, 7, 7122, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-07337-y.
  • Chennu, A.; Färber, P.; Volkenborn, N.; Al-Najjar, M.A.A.; Janssen, F.; de Beer, D.; Polerecky, L. Hyperspectral Imaging of the Microscale Distribution and Dynamics of Microphytobenthos in Intertidal Sediments. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods 2013, 11, 511–528, doi:10.4319/lom.2013.11.511.