MSc Graduate in Focus: Haley Dolton

This year we are launching not one, but two new MSc courses! We have a new MSc in Marine Vertebrate Ecology and Conservation and an MSc in Marine Environmental Management! Applications to both courses are open now for 2020 start. We are looking back on some of our MSc graduates who have excelled in marine vertebrate ecology and conservation around the world since studying with us.

Today we meet Haley Dolton, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2018) and now a PhD student at Trinity College Dublin funded by the Irish Research Council!

Hi Haley! First off, why don’t you tell us a bit about what you are up to now?

After finishing my studies at the Penryn campus, I was lucky enough to work on a couple of short-term projects with researchers from ExeterMarine. I conducted a literature review on Arctic biodiversity for Prof Brendan Godley and Dr Kristian Metcalfe and I analysed video footage from towed cameras deployed on basking sharks for Dr Lucy Hawkes and Dr Matthew Witt. During this employment, I recorded behaviours displayed by basking sharks and their interactions with each other and the marine environment.

I then worked in the teaching lab setting up experiments and demonstrating in practicals, which taught me a variety of new skills! I also continued to volunteer for local marine groups such as Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust and the postmortem team in the ESI who try to figure out why some marine animals have stranded along the Cornish coastline.

Now, I am a PhD student at Trinity College Dublin. My research focuses on the thermal biology and ecology of Atlantic blue fin tuna, sixgill sharks and basking sharks. I collect data from wild, free swimming individuals by attaching devices that record a variety of different things such as body movements and external temperature. From this data, I hope to find out more about each species and how this new information could potentially inform conservation and policy.

So, what did you enjoy most about studying your MSc?

The best aspect for me about studying at the CEC, were the supportive lecturers, researchers and students. There really was a great community feel and if someone could help you out in any way, they would! Their support obviously covered all things academic, but they also supported me as a person, wanted the best for me and really encouraged me in areas where I felt under-confident. For example, before coming to the University of Exeter, I would never show anyone any artwork I would do, but thanks to their encouragement I started to share things I had created with people which resulted in people requesting drawings, purchasing drawings and designing infographics for marine research groups – all things that I would not have come about without the encouragement of people at ExeterMarine!

The lifestyle the Cornish coast could offer was also amazing and I spent many an hour kayaking, on a SUP or snorkeling! As I mentioned above, I also got in contact with a variety of different marine research groups in Cornwall and volunteered for them – this is something I’d highly recommend to any new student to expand your skill set and to meet some great people!

How did the MSc help prepare you for your career in research?

My research project for my masters came about in a slightly unusual way. I had worked in practical marine biology for several years before coming back to education to do my masters degree. I came back to study to learn how to best analyse the data I had been collecting, with one of my main aims being to learn how to use R and GIS (spatial analysis software). Those connections I had made during work with Manx Basking Shark Watch, kindly supplied basking shark location data and allowed me to gain those skills I needed in R and GIS, with great support from my supervisor, Dr Matthew Witt. It was these skills, which helped me to gain employment at the University when I finished my masters.

I also made use of the help offered by the careers service who taught me the skills I needed to gain interviews and through programmes such as the Exeter Award.

Any advice for someone looking to follow a similar career?

Work hard, be kind and be patient. Some of the best job offers I’ve had have come from connections or the unexpected and left field. Take advantage of any opportunity if you are able to and seek out your own opportunities. The opportunity to attend seminars from guest speakers and to network afterwards, were very useful skills to gain. In fact, it was from networking that I knew of the PhD position I am currently in!

As corny as it sounds, the biggest highlight was meeting and getting to know my fellow students. I have met some of my favourite people from doing my masters and have some truly wonderful memories with them. There’s something very special about living somewhere as beautiful as Cornwall and getting to explore and share all it has to offer with your friends!

Any advice for anyone thinking of applying to the University of Exeter?

Go for it! It’ll be hard at times, but you won’t regret it!

Thanks Haley!

You can follow Haley on Twitter.

If you want to find out more about any of our suite of #ExeterMarine Masters and Undergraduate courses use the links below!

Exeter Marine Podcast – Coral Reef Bioacoustics Part I, with Prof. Steve Simpson

 

Show notes

In this episode Professor Steve Simpson talks to us about his research covering a number of topics focusing primarily on his bioacoustics work on coral reefs. He also discusses his work on Blue Planet 2 and recalls an encounter with David Attenborough.

 


 

About our guest: Steve Simpson

Professor Steve Simpson is a marine biologist and fish ecologist. His research focuses on the behaviour of coral reef fishes, bioacoustics, the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems, fisheries, conservation and management. Following a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship Steve has ongoing links with industry and policy on the themes of European Fisheries and Climate Change, and Anthropogenic Noise and Marine Ecosystems. Steve works closely with Cefas and the Met Office, and is an active member of the IQOE Science Committee, he has been an Academic Advisor and featured scientist in Blue Planet 2

Steve’s work combines fieldwork, often through expeditions to remote and challenging environments around the world, with laboratory-based behaviour experiments, data-mining, and computer modelling.

Steve’s research focuses on:

  • The impact of anthropogenic noise on marine ecosystems.
  • The effects of climate change on fish and fisheries.
  • Sensory and orientation behaviour of marine organisms.
  • Dispersal, connectivity and biogeography.
  • Coral reef restoration.
  • Fisheries and Conservation Management.

 


 

 

Topics discussed:

  • Bioacoustics of coral reefs.
  • How underwater sound can reveal animals we rarely observe visually on coral reefs.
  • How fish choose communities to live in by listening.
  • Is the underwater world silent?
  • How do underwater species hear?
  • How do you record an underwater soundscape?
  • Blue Planet 2 and David Attenborough.

 

Resources:

TEDx 2019 Talk: Changing the Soundtrack of the Ocean

BBC Earth Film: Underwater acoustics work

Agile Rabbit Talk: Underwater Sound in Blue Planet II

Facebook Live: Q&A Session

Article: Exeter marine expert awarded prestigious medal for scientific contribution

Twitter

 


 

Episode and show notes produced by Ben Toulson and Katie Finnimore.

Check out other episodes of the podcast here.

You can subscribe on most podcast apps, if you’re feeling kind please leave us a review!

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields. If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Emily Easman or visit our website!

 

MSc Graduate In Focus: Tammy Davies

This year we are launching not one, but two new MSc courses! We have a new MSc in Marine Vertebrate Ecology and Conservation and an MSc in Marine Environmental Management! Applications to both courses are open now for 2020 start. We are looking back on some of our MSc graduates who have excelled in marine vertebrate ecology and conservation around the world since studying with us.

Today we meet Tammy Davies, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2008) and now a marine science officer at Birdlife International!

Hi Tammy! First off, why don’t you tell us a bit about what you have done since graduating from your MSc in 2008?

After finishing my MSc, I worked as a research assistant on a human-elephant conflict mitigation project in NE India, supported by Chester Zoo. I then went on to complete a PhD at the University of St Andrews and ZSL, researching the impacts of land use change on biodiversity and people in the Solomon Islands. After finished my PhD I undertook a postdoctoral position at the University of Victoria (BC, Canada) on the social and ecological effectiveness of large marine protected areas – a global meta-analysis, and moved to BirdLife International as a Marine Science Officer almost 3 years ago.

So, what did you enjoy most about studying your MSc?

The highlight was having a longer period of time dedicated to a research project, and this was what first attracted me to the course. It was great to have an intense teaching period, and then a good amount of time to focus on a research project, and use new skills learnt during the previous few months.

The best part was the enthusiasm of the staff for what they do – it was such a change from my undergraduate degree, and a great environment to be a part of. I found the course really well structured and balanced between taught modules, external speakers, field trip, and longer research project.

Cornwall is an incredibly beautiful part of the UK – I loved being so close to the sea, and having opportunities to take part in basking shark surveys, try surfing, and general outdoorsy-ness, which is so much easier when the sea is on your doorstop.

How did the MSc help prepare you for your career in research?

The course was applied and focused, and was great training for my career. In particular, the focus on writing all assignments as scientific papers, and learning R, were the two skills that have definitely been the most beneficial for my subsequent work.

As an added bonus, it also provided a network of people within the conservation field, both peers and alumni. It’s incredible how many people I have met around my current work place who are fellow Penryn conservation alumni!

Thanks Tammy!

You can follow Tammy on Twitter!

If you want to find out more about any of our suite of #ExeterMarine Masters and Undergraduate courses use the links below!MSc

MSc Graduate in Focus: Chris Kerry

This year we are launching a new MSc in Marine Vertebrate Ecology and Conservation and applications are open now for 2020 start. We are looking back on some of our MSc graduates who have excelled in marine vertebrate ecology and conservation around the world since studying with us.

Today we meet Chris Kerry, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2018) and now completing his PhD at the University of Exeter!

Hi Chris! First off, why don’t you tell us what you are up to now and how you got there?

I used my time during the MSc to develop skills in marine spatial ecology. After graduating, I remained in contact with my research project tutor turning my MSc thesis into a publishable piece and gaining fixed term contract work to conduct spatial analysis for other lecturers and connected organizations. I was then written into a grant proposal as a research assistant which led to me being accepted as a funded PhD student based on these experiences.

It’s lovely to have you back with us! What did you enjoy most about studying your MSc with us at the University of Exeter Cornwall Campus?

I enjoyed being welcomed into a vibrant research community and participating in projects at the forefront of conservation efforts which were producing real world benefits.

The lecturers are enthusiastic about their research, they welcome student input and are keen to share their experiences and expertise. It is a supportive environment, from the accessibility of lecturers and research staff to having a designated space where MSc students can study and share knowledge and ideas.

I believe the rate of new research in conservation science coming out of Exeter is unparalleled, which makes the content of the courses more relevant and exciting.

Chris Kerry (front right) with (clockwise) Jess Rudd, Dr Lucy Hawkes, Dr Matt Witt and Owen Exeter on field work tracking Basking Sharks.

How did the MSc help you in your career, and do you have any advice for students looking to pursue a similar career?

One of the most useful things was attending one to one sessions with advisors at the career zone who helped restructure my CV to be more appealing to employers and advise on interview techniques.

The sense of accomplishment at the end of the research project has to be one of my biggest highlights. The process of collecting and analyzing data and producing a thesis which informs conservation efforts is extremely rewarding.

Chris Kerry on field work. Photo courtesy of Dr Lucy Hawkes

 

Finally, Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of applying to any of our programmes at the University of Exeter?

Firstly, approach members of staff to see if they have any projects that you could assist with. Volunteering with ZSL during my MSc led to them offering me paid work afterwards. Likewise, undertaking an internship with Dr Matthew Witt led to us developing an MSc research project together and then being recruited as a research assistant.

Secondly, Cornwall has a wealth of people and groups outside the university working in Marine Conservation. During my MSc, I volunteered with Cornwall Wildlife Trust, ERCCIS, British Diver’s Marine Life Rescue, ORCA and Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust but there are also many others. Volunteering with these organisations, other than assisting in incredibly important work, provide valuable additional experience, networking opportunities and demonstrate a real desire to work in this sector which helps you to stand out.

Put yourself out there but do your research. Attending conferences and symposiums with speakers whose research genuinely aligns with your interests and skills is a great way to make connections. Being able to discuss their research with them in an informed way will help you to stick in their minds.

Thanks Chris!

If you want to find out more about any of our suite of #ExeterMarine Masters and Undergraduate courses use the links below!

Academics Join to Wish Happy 30th Birthday to Surfers Against Sewage

Words by Professor Brendan Godley

Last Friday, I was pleased to attend  Surfers Against Sewage 30th Anniversary celebrations where they announced their new patron, the Duke of Cornwall, His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales. SAS is a greatly admired NGO with whom we, and other universities committed to ocean conservation,  work very closely. They really are a force for positive change.

Prof Annette Broderick  and Dr Anne Leonard also represented ExeterMarine alongside colleagues from Plymouth University, Edinburgh University and the Environment Agency.  Other groups included a range of other stakeholders that work with the charity and, of course, SAS staff and trustees. It was a very warm and engaged event and HRH signed a sustainable surfboard made by local company Otter Surfboards to mark the event. University of Exeter alumnus, and SAS CEO, Hugo Tagholm gave a very thoughtful address and I asked him for it and paraphrase it below, as it resonated so very well, particularly with those of us from Cornwall.

Happy Birthday to SAS!

HRH Prince Charles signs a sustainable surfboard made by James Otter (Right) with SAS Chief Executive Hugo Tagholm (Left)

 

For more than four decades The Prince has used his unique position to champion action for a sustainable future. In the context of global challenges that include climate change, deforestation, and ocean pollution, The Prince has promoted sustainability to ensure that the natural assets upon which we all depend among other things soil, water, forests, a stable climate and fish stocks endure for future generations. 

Cornwall’s is the UK’s Ocean County, our very own California, with its outstanding coastline, world-class waves, wildlife, beaches, tourism industry, and an unrivalled grassroots community of ocean activists.

People really do live and breathe the ocean in Cornwall. 

HRH Prince Charles lets Dr Meriwether Wilson (Edinburgh) know of his strong commitment to marine protection.

Our proximity to the ocean has helped us grow a unique and charismatic charity that continues to deliver marine conservation progress for the long-term protection for Planet Ocean.

This is no more so exemplified by our recent work on plastic pollution and the water-quality campaigns of the 1990s. These campaigns started in response to the pollution witnessed on the beaches that are so central to the lives, living and wellbeing of our supporters.

Our supporters are often described as the canary in the coalmine of ocean issues – walking across tidelines strewn with plastic pollution, surfing near contaminated rivers, sensitive to biodiversity loss and affected by the impacts of a changing climate. They are also privileged to be a part of the ocean ecosystem. 

And, people really do protect what they love.

HRH Prince Charles shakes hands with Prof Annette Broderick (Exeter). In background Prof Sabine Pahl (Plymouth)

It is this powerful connection with the ocean that continues to inspire our work to tackle plastic pollution, improve coastal and river water quality, raise awareness of global heating and support the call to protect 30% of our ocean over the next decade.

I would like to pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of people who join us across the nation each year – on beaches, in schools, at events and on the campaign trail to deliver a brighter, bluer future.

Our supporters are the salty life-blood of our charity, in every part of the county, country and increasingly around the world. We are proud to empower over 100,000 beach clean volunteers annually; lead 700 Plastic Free Communities nationwide; inspire over a million school children through our Plastic Free Schools programme; and help raise the issues with policymakers through our Ocean Conservation group in Westminster.

I would like to thank my team and trustees who continue to make such a valuable contribution to the UK’s marine conservation effort, in inimitable Surfers Against Sewage style. I’d also like to make a special mention of the former leaders of the charity, Chris Hines, Vicky Garner and Rich Hardy – incredible people without whom we wouldn’t be here today!”

Surfers Against Sewage Chief Executive, Hugo Tagholm greets HRH Prince Charles and highlights the educational work of the charity.

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, biological,  medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields.

Find us on: Facebook : Twitter : Instagram : LinkedIn  

If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Emily Easman or visit our website!

MSc Graduate In Focus: Catherine Hart

This year we are launching a new MSc in Marine Vertebrate Ecology and Conservation and applications are open now for 2020 start. We are looking back on some of our MSc graduates who have excelled in marine vertebrate ecology and conservation around the world since studying with us.

Today we meet Catherine Hart, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2009) and now scientific director for the Red Tortguera (Sea Turtle Network) in Mexico!

Hi Catherine! First off, why don’t you tell us what you are up to now and how you got there?

I moved to Mexico when I was 19 after having been a volunteer on a sea turtle conservation project in Nayarit state and then undertaking an undergraduate degree there. It had always been my intention to go straight back after the master’s course. On arriving back, I began to run the field conservation work for a small NGO and then when it was low sea turtle season taught secondary school science and did a little gardening/child minding on the side. In 2010 I decided that a PhD would be beneficial and allow me to continue my sea turtle conservation and research activities. The PhD was with the Universidad de Guadalajara in Puerto Vallarta and was supported through a scholarship from the Mexican government. During that period, I increased the number of nesting beach conservation projects that I was managing from one to seven and co-founded an NGO “Red Tortuguera” (sea turtle network). After the PhD I was accepted into the Mexican Researchers System (Sistema Nacional de Investigadores) which allows me to continue my research while conducting sea turtle conservation activities.

What did you enjoy most about studying your MSc with us at the University of Exeter Cornwall Campus?

I loved being by the sea. I am from Northampton so that’s about as far from the ocean as you can get in the UK. I loved how dynamic the UK tides are and I even loved the seagulls (which are not that popular).

Everyone on the course were amazing and had all done different conservation and research activities either during their undergraduate degrees or as volunteers. It was a great opportunity to learn about different places and conservation issues. The researchers at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation are world class and very approachable. I always felt that I could ask questions and didn’t have to be embarrassed for having no idea about some things that others knew from their undergraduate degrees in the UK.

What skills and experiences from the MSc have been most useful in your career?

I would say everything I learnt at Exeter has been useful. Firstly, having studied at a university known for its research on sea turtles has opened many doors not to mention that my masters project was on Mexican sea turtles and I was put in contact with some of the top researchers worldwide for East Pacific green sea turtles who I may not have gotten to know so early in my career if it hadn’t been for the introductions made by the Exeter researchers. This is something I am very grateful for as not only has it been great for my research and conservation activities but also for the friendships I have made. On a more academic note the courses on statistics and mapping software have come in very useful! Perhaps the most important thing that I learnt at Exeter is to have the confidence in myself and the experience that I had gained from years of fieldwork in Mexico.

Finally, why did you choose your career path and do you have any advice for those looking to pursue something similar?

It’s great to be able to help study and protect sea turtles and other local wildlife where I live. I like to think that I am making a difference. I have been in the same place long enough to see some of the results of our conservation activities and that is very rewarding.

Never turn down an opportunity to tag along on research trips, learn a second language and perhaps take a course in marketing.

Any advice for anyone thinking of applying to the University of Exeter?

Just do it.

Thanks Catherine!!

If you want to find out more about any of our suite of #ExeterMarine Masters and Undergraduate courses use the links below!

MSc Graduate In Focus: Joana Hanock

This year we are launching a new MSc in Marine Vertebrate Ecology and Conservation and applications are open now for 2020 start. We are looking back on some of our MSc graduates who have excelled in marine vertebrate ecology and conservation around the world since studying with us.

Today we meet Joana Hancock, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2011) and now working with the Olive Ridley Project as a Sea Turtle Biologist!

 

 

Hi Joana! First off, why don’t you tell us what you are up to now and how you got there?

Having graduated from an MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity in 2011 well into my career as sea turtle biologist, I decided to slowly move away from previous jobs where I coordinated sea turtle nesting programs, to study and understand other less studied life-stages such as juveniles and males, and their role in sea turtle conservation. For this reason, I initiated my PhD studies in 2014 focusing on sea turtle foraging ecology, genetics and mixed modelling to understand how these life stages link to each other and how we could integrate them in conservation plans. Following on this specific research interest (foraging ecology and genetic connectivity) I am now trying to initiate a research program on Kenya’s south coast coupling sea turtle photo-ID mark-capture-recapture study, habitat mapping and population analyses, focusing on juvenile green turtles in foraging areas.

What did you enjoy most about studying your MSc with us at the University of Exeter Cornwall Campus?

The opportunity to study alongside with students from all areas of conservation and different parts of the world. Lectures from people working in different fields of conservation biology and student seminars provided valuable learning and eye-opening opportunities that were as valuable as the MSc program’s modules.

I really enjoyed the teaching system, it is very relaxed, in such way that it was very easy to interact and learn from the experienced lecturers and their support staff, who were always available and very supportive. The location is great, it is a very special campus and lab equipment as well as lecture theatres are top!

What skills and experiences from the MSc have been most useful in your career?

During the program we learn not only about topics in conservation, but also there are specific modules that teach you how to actually survive in the conservation world: from writing grant proposals, giving oral presentations, writing research papers, attending and preparing job interviews, etc. Extremely important!

Finally, why did you choose your career path and do you have any advice for those looking to pursue something similar?

I choose sea turtle biology and conservation nearly 20 years ago, and there was no turning back. Every day I learn from my interaction with turtles, with people who work with them, and mostly people who live of them. I could not imagine many more careers that can be so inter-disciplinary as working with marine vertebrates such as sea turtles. It can be hard at times, but most of the time it is a pleasure as sea turtle research progresses, turtles become even more fascinating. It is a humbling experience and always extremely rewarding!

This is a career to make your life richer, not necessarily your wallet 😉 With this in mind, keep your expectations low, accept all learning opportunities, but don’t get unmotivated. As you gain more experience things will start falling into place, and it will be a life-changing decision you will never regret!

Any advice for anyone thinking of applying to the University of Exeter?

Go for it, it is worth it!

Thanks Joana!

If you want to find out more about any of our suite of #ExeterMarine Masters and Undergraduate courses use the links below!

MSc Graduate In Focus: Dr Kristian Metcalfe

This year we are launching a new MSc in Marine Vertebrate Ecology and Conservation and applications are open now for 2020 start. We are looking back on some of our MSc graduates who have excelled in marine vertebrate ecology and conservation around the world since studying with us.

Today we meet Dr Kristian Metcalfe, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2008) and now working as a Lecturer at the University of Exeter CEC in Cornwall!

Hi Kristian! First off, why don’t you tell us a bit about your career since studying your MSc with us?

After completing the MSc in Conservation & Biodiversity at the University of Exeter I spent 12 months undertaking various roles from volunteering for local wildlife organisations, to being a paid research assistant. In 2009 I secured a PhD at the Durrell Institute of Conservation & Ecology (DICE) supervised by the wonderful Dr Bob Smith, where I also continued onto my first Post-Doc. In 2013 I returned to the University of Exeter as a Post-doc for Prof Brendan Godley, a role I continued in for 6 years prior to becoming a member of staff within the Centre for Ecology & Conservation in 2019.

What made you choose to study your MSc with us at the University of Exeter Cornwall Campus?

I chose to the study at the University of Exeter Penryn Campus because it had many internationally renowned marine academics that had an established reputation of working with industry, policy makers and conservation agencies.

The Centre for Ecology and Conservation hosts a thriving community of staff who are very accessible, supportive and extremely interested in helping you to develop your skills and experiences to enhance your future employment opportunities.

The Penryn campus is situated in beautiful surroundings – a perfect setting for undertaking a MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity with coast and countryside on your doorstep.

How did the MSc help prepare you for your career in academia?

The research project – this was the point where I realized that I wanted to go onto study a PhD. I really enjoyed working with my supervisor to develop a question, collecting data, analyzing my findings and writing it up in the format of a scientific paper.  With so many academics with interests across marine and terrestrial realms there are so many potential projects to choose from you will not be disappointed.

Finally, Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of applying to any of our programmes at the University of Exeter?

Take every opportunity to develop your skills and experiences there are so many options available to you in the conservation sector – who knows who you will meet at workshops, conferences, meetings, or whilst volunteering and what further opportunities may appear as a result.

Thanks Kristian!

You can follow Kristian on Twitter, @_KMETCALFE

 

If you want to find out more about any of our suite of #ExeterMarine Masters and Undergraduate courses use the links below!

MSc Graduate In Focus: Kieran McCloskey

This year we are launching a new MSc in Marine Vertebrate Ecology and Conservation and applications are open now for September 2020 start. We are looking back on some of our MSc graduates who have excelled in marine vertebrate ecology and conservation around the world since studying with us.

Today we meet Kieran McCloskey, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2017) and now a PhD student at the University of Exeter studying impacts of anthropogenic noise on fish reproduction and populations.

Hi Kieran! We’re glad you’ve continued your studies with us at the University of Exeter, what do you think makes the University a great place to study?

I chose this university because the programme on offer was a good fit for my interests/needs to transition into ecology from the biomedical field. The MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity offered a broad range of taught courses, field experience and an opportunity to conduct independent research through a project towards the end of the programme. As someone who needed to experience as much as possible to fully immerse myself in ecology and conservation, this programme turned out to be a perfect fit.

The Centre for Ecology and Conservation has a great balance of professionalism and approachability. While studying at the CEC, I felt that I was receiving high-calibre instruction and was participating in cutting-edge research. At the same time, lecturers, academics and visiting professionals were made available in a way that I always felt comfortable to start a discussion about ideas, interests or potential opportunities for research or job-placement.

We’re glad you have enjoyed your time with us. How have you found studying at both our Cornwall, Penryn Campus and Exeter, Streatham Campus?

Personally, as a new international student from the US, I felt that the Penryn Campus was a warm and friendly environment for someone so far away from home. I’m currently based at the larger Streatham Campus, and I am glad I was able to experience the satellite campus before moving to Devon.

Cornwall is a wonderful place to live and study. While the program itself was a good fit for me and my interests, the most enjoyable aspect of studying at the Penryn campus would have to be the scenery and surrounding areas. There are plenty of beautiful beaches and coastal walks that offer stunning views, especially at sunset. Cornwall itself is filled with community spirit and pride and has a rich history and culture. During my master’s program, I lived in Falmouth, which is a charming fishing town 30 minutes away from campus that has great restaurants, shops and pubs. Having lived in the UK now for over three years, Cornwall is still my favourite destination to visit.

With his award for ‘Best Oral Presentation’ at Reef Conservation UK 2019

What skills did you learn that helped you to develop further in your career?

There has been a lot of carry over in terms of the skills that I developed during my master’s programme that have helped me to be successful in my current role as a PhD student. My course helped me to build confidence in oral presentation and academic writing, gain proficiency in making and presenting academic posters, develop a strong foundation in statistics and data analysis, improve my background research skills and literature reviews, and make strides towards becoming an independent researcher.

The research skills course that was offered during my program was particularly helpful for someone like me who had recently switched into a research role from a previous profession. This course helped me to hone important skills, such as oral presentation, making an academic poster, completing a literature review, building my CV, and participating in public outreach. Similarly, the Career Zone offered advice and guidance on improving CVs and preparing for job/PhD interviews that I utilised. Lastly, my academic tutor and the head of my programme were terrific resources for seeking guidance about furthering my career in the academic world.

Kieran presents a poster of his work at the Society for Experimental Biology’s Annual Meeting

 

Finally, why did you choose you career in research and do you have any advice for anyone looking to pursue a similar career?

I have always been passionate about science. I previously worked in the medical field, but found that it wasn’t the right fit for me as a career. I decided to change paths and started as a volunteer on a conservation project. From there, I went on to pursue a postgraduate degree at the University of Exeter, and it was during my MSc that I was able to build confidence and come to the realisation that ecology and conservation could be my chosen profession. For me, the drive to improve our relationship with the natural world is what I enjoy most about my work. It is a cause I can support fully and have no reservations about. Furthermore, I feel that ecology and conservation are becoming increasingly important topics in science. As a society, we are starting to understand the tremendous negative impact that we have on our planet and the importance of a healthy environment. With climate change now moving to the forefront of public concern and political debate, strong foundations in ecology and conservation will be mandatory for all human activity across the globe.

As with most sectors, learn as much as you can about the industry you’re interested in. Take opportunities to explore your interests and speak with experts about their experiences. Also, it’s best to be patient. No one becomes an expert/professional in their field overnight.

Thank you Kieran!

You can follow Kieran on Twitter, @kieranp_mcc

If you want to find out more about any of our suite of #ExeterMarine Masters and Undergraduate courses use the links below!

MSc Graduate in Focus: Dr Kylie Scales

This year we are launching a new MSc in Marine Vertebrate Ecology and Conservation and applications are open now for 2020 start. We are looking back on some of our MSc graduates who have excelled in marine vertebrate ecology and conservation around the world since studying with us.

Today we meet Dr Kylie Scales, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2010) and now working as a Senior Lecturer at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia!

Dr Kylie Scales Photo: USC Australia

Hi Kylie! First off, why don’t you tell us a bit about your career since studying your MSc with us?

Immediately after finishing my MSc I secured a Postgraduate research and teaching assistant position at Centre for Ecology & Conservation. I then moved on to a PhD in Marine Science at Plymouth Marine Lab. From there I travelled to the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center Environmental Research Division in Monterey, California as a postdoctoral project assistant. And finally in 2016 I secured a lectureship at USC Australia and became a senior lecturer in Animal Ecology in 2018.

Dr Kylie Scales, Associate Editor at RSEC Journal Photo: RSEC Journal

You’ve worked in some wonderful places! What made you choose to study your MSc with us at the University of Exeter Cornwall Campus?

I had been living in Cornwall for a couple of years, working as a secondary school teacher after graduating from an undergraduate degree at the University of Plymouth. When I discovered the potential to study ecology and conservation at the Penryn Campus through an advert for a PhD studentship with Profs. Brendan Godley and Annette Broderick, I couldn’t believe that such opportunity existed in Cornwall. I’ve never looked back.

The facilities at Penryn are first-rate. There are many fantastic people working and studying at the campus, so student life is varied and interesting. Living in Cornwall provides lots of opportunity to get outside and into the ocean. My experiences there were very enjoyable, and I have great memories of that time.

How did the MSc help prepare you for your career in academia?

 My experiences at Penryn gave me excellent role models and mentors that prepared me for my current role as a lecturer and researcher.

I enjoyed the interaction with the world-leading researchers in ecology and conservation that are based at the Penryn Campus. Studying for an MSc at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation opened my eyes to the possibilities of collaborative research, and I aspired to join the community of inspirational and proactive people that I met there.

The training in data analysis using the statistical software R delivered by Prof. Dave Hodgson has springboarded my career in data science. This was a standout aspect of the MSc, and made me highly competitive for other studentships and research opportunities. I also learnt to write, speak in public, and connect with professional researchers. These learning experiences have proven invaluable since.

My research project involved tracking sea turtles at a remote coral atoll in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system off Belize. This was an incredible experience, and a privilege that I will never forget. We also published the resultant research in a peer-reviewed journal, which was my first scientific paper,  and this proved helpful in securing further opportunities.

Finally, Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of applying to any of our programmes at the University of Exeter?

Do it now!

Thanks Kylie!

Dr Kylie Scales (back right) and Dr Javier Leon (front left) with Smartfin Users. Photo: Noosa News

You can follow Kylie on Twitter @KylieScales

If you want to find out more about any of our suite of #ExeterMarine Masters and Undergraduate courses use the links below!