MSc Graduate in Focus: Elizabeth Campbell

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 Elizabeth Campbell, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2014) and now an associate researcher with ProDelphinus and PhDl student at the University of Exeter!

Hi Elizabeth! First off, why don’t you tell us what attracted you to study your MSc at the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus?

I grew up close to the ocean, enjoyed it and wanted to have a career that was related to it. I enjoy having a job with a purpose, a job that has a positive impact in the world and that improves it in some measurable way.

The University of Exeter offered a programme that aligned to my interests and the faculty had experience working in areas that were of my interest (small scale fisheries, developing countries, vertebrates). In the MSc at Penryn I found an advisor that was interested in my research topic, and a course that would strengthen my knowledge and future work. The MSc teaches you how to plan a project, to fundraise, implement, present and share your results as well as publish them. You finish your MSc with experience in every project aspect

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

The biggest highlights for me, include the Field Course in Kenya, the wide variety of practical methods classes throughout the degree and being able to complete my thesis on river dolphins!

Cornwall is a fantastic place to study! Everything you need is close. Natural surroundings inspire your work and give you space to relax. University courses take advantage of their natural surroundings as well.

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

The Key Skills module has given me many important tools! From delivering presentations, how to network at conferences and branding yourself online to writing a grant and writing and publish a paper.

The staff are approachable and available to answer questions. The course environment is friendly amongst students and teachers.

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

To not hesitate, apply and take advantage of a great course set in a beautiful location

Thanks Elizabeth!

You can follow Elizabeth (@Eliicampbell) and ProDelphinus (@prodelphinus) on Twitter

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

Scientists at Sea Podcast – Atlantic Bluefin Tuna in the UK, with Tom Horton

Show notes

In this episode we speak to Tom Horton, a current PhD student at the University of Exeter and Project Officer for ThunnusUK. Tom and Ethan discuss all things ThunnusUK and Atlantic bluefin tuna.

ThunnusUK (named after the Atlantic bluefin tuna’s latin name, Thunnus thynnus), is a collaborative study between the Univeristy of Exeter and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas). The aim is to provide a baseline understanding of ecology and global distribution of Atlantic bluefin tuna that can be found in the waters around southwest England.

You can find out more about ThunnusUK here.

 

Atlantic bluefin tuna have historically weighed up to 900kg and measured nearly 4m.

 


About our guest: Tom Horton

Tom has built up an impressive career portfolio, after graduating from a Marine Biology (MSci) at the University of Southampton he became a research assistant at the Marine Megafauna Foundation. Following this he moved to Cornwall to become the Volunteer Seaquest Southwest Co-ordinator for the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and then progressed on to work for Marine Discovery Penzance as a researcher and guide. He is now undertaking a PhD with the University of Exeter, Cefas, and Stanford University focusing the spatial ecology of marine vertebrates that are of conservation concern, Atlantic bluefin tuna being a prime example.

 

Tom (right), pictured out on fieldwork.

 


 

Topics discussed

A selection of the tags used in the research
  • What is Thunnus UK?
  • How long has Thunnus UK been around?
  • Atlantic bluefin tuna in UK waters, why do they come here?
  • How do you tag and track a bluefin tuna?
  • How do tuna tags work?
  • Tagging animals safely and responsibly
  • How have fishers responded to the project?
  • Where do Atlantic bluefin tuna travel to when they leave UK waters?

 


 

Resources

 

Thunnus UK website

Have you spotted a Bluefin Tuna? You Can report your sighting here 

Tom Horton on Twitter

Thunnus on 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!

As mentioned in the podcast, if you would like to hear what our series 1 presenters (Ethan Wrigglesworth and Molly Meadows) have been up to, check out Trail and Errors.

#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 Michael Hanley or visit our website!

 

MSc Graduate in Focus: Victoria Jeffers

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 Victoria Jeffers, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2014) and now the Head of Implementation – Global Conservation Programmes at Blue Ventures!

Hi Tori! It’s been five years since you studied with us, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your career to date?

Prior to undertaking the masters at Penryn, I worked for seven years in project management roles for not for profit organisations. In 2013, I decided to study for a masters to improve my research and conservation skills. Immediately after completing my masters I was lucky to get a role with Blue Ventures Conservation in Madagascar, coordinating their shark monitoring project which used smartphones to record shark catch. I moved back to the UK as Conservation Programmes Assistant and over the last 4 years have transitioned through a series of roles. I am now responsible for managing Blue Ventures’ conservation programmes in Belize, Timor-Leste and Indonesia, the UK-based Grants Management team, and overseeing progress against our conservation strategy in all of our sites of direct implementation.

You mention you already had several years experience before embarking on an MSc, what made you choose to study with us at the University of Exeter Cornwall Campus?

I chose to study at the Penryn campus due to the variety of modules offered, the course content and the location. The course structure and content were appealing as it was diverse and covered a broad range of topics/module choices. I enjoyed the course structure, the friendly lecturers and the campus – being by the sea is great!

I stayed off campus and didn’t have much time to use the full range of facilities and partake in social activities, but there is certainly lots to do. Proximity to the sea expands these opportunities (diving, surfing etc)

Excellent, what skills did you learn that helped you to develop further in your career?

So many. I learnt a lot on the technical side from the field trips, especially the overseas trip to Kenya. I also learnt a lot of softer skills through independent study and particularly my thesis which involved polishing and honing a lot of skills I hadn’t used for a while.

I learnt a lot about basic programming using R which would be super helpful for all jobs in this field.

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

I chose this career to have an impact on the future state of the planet.

I enjoy that my role is very varied, involving activities from leading a team to manage the grants that facilitate our work, to designing decision making tools for teams, to trouble-shooting issues with field teams. I spend a lot of time communicating with, supporting and visiting staff all over the world and I enjoy seeing my support efforts being translated into action and impact in the field.

To have an impact in conservation you have to think about and work closely with communities. To be able to do this you need to have strong soft skills and well as technical skills so I recommend you develop good people skills and the abilities to listen, empathise and problem solve.

Get lots of experience, voluntary or otherwise. Approach organisations knowing what your skills and interests are and how you can best help the organisation in question. Study the website and language of the organization you want to work for and emulate it.

Thanks Victoria!

You can follow Victoria (@Tori_FJ) and BlueVentures (@BlueVentures) 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 Graduate in Focus: Owen Exeter

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 Owen Exeter, MSc Conservation Science and Policy graduate (2017) and now working as a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Exeter!

 

Hi Owen! We’re glad that you are still working with us at the University of Exeter, why don’t you tell us a bit what you’re up to now?

 

I’m now a Graduate research assistant for Dr Rachel Turner and Dr Matthew Witt at the University of Exeter. I really love the possibilities in research. My areas of interest are constantly evolving and there is a lot of variety in the world of marine vertebrates. I spend weekends off Falmouth helping tag tuna, weeks in Scotland with basking sharks then periods working with big data and making maps. It’s a fantastic mix and I am always looking forward to new experiences.  

Shortly after graduating I was contacted by Dr Matthew Witt and asked if I wanted to on one of his new projects the ‘English Marine Spatial Planning and the Ocean Health Index’. I knew Matt from various projects during my MSc and we had stayed in contact after graduation. 

I was incredibly fortunate to spend a week working with Matt and Dr Lucy Hawkes in Scotland deploying high resolution ‘Daily Diary’ tags to basking sharks. It was literally my last couple of weeks when Matt asked if I could come and work as a field assistant. It was an incredible experience and a chance to contribute towards groundbreaking research into the fine-scale movements of these iconic sharks. My research thesis with Matt had been desk based as I had wanted to focus applying and refining the GIS skills I had learnt during the MSc. It might not happen to everyone, but I think it shows that if you work hard, even if you don’t have many field opportunities, you learn more vocational skills and supervisors will recognize your potential. They might just ask you to be more involved in the research group activities if possible.  

 

We’re glad you had such great opportunities! What did you enjoy most about studying in Penryn?

 

It took me a little while to work out what career I wanted in life. I studied politics as an undergraduate and years abroad working in hospitality. But traveling exposed me to some incredible places and marine life, so I decided to take a few chances and enroll in the MSc and I am so glad I did!

There aren’t many better places in the UK to study marine conservation science. It has a fantastic mix of world leading researchers and opportunities to volunteer for external conservation organizations. I was able to spend free time surveying for the Cornwall Seal Group which is a fantastic charity. I also helped at the Seal Sanctuary and got further GIS experience at the Cornish Wildlife Trust.

The University is constantly growing and there are more and more opportunities to be involved in cutting-edge research. The marine vertebrate team is especially strong and there are so many incredible researchers to learn from. 

I love living in Cornwall. The Penryn Campus is located with access to beautiful beaches and incredible marine life. Just last week I took a trip not far off offshore in Falmouth bay freediving with blue sharks. On the way out we saw bluefin tuna, minke whales and hundreds of dolphins. If you love marine life it really is a dream location.  

Underwater cameras used this summer by the team to study 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?

Field work with basking sharks was incredible, but the analytical skills taught in the MSc are what have really prepared me for my current role. If you have an idea of what you want to do after your studies start looking at positions early. You don’t need to apply for anything, but you can get an idea of the skills you will need for the future. Also make use of the career zone on campus. They are so helpful and transformed my CV when I started applications.  

Have an open mind. My interests have evolved since I began my MSc. You might discover new field of research that interest you. Fisheries also now fascinate me and I have definitely gone from being completely obsessed only with sharks to being obsessed with a huge variety of commercial and conservation concern fish (but mostly sharks).

Also get involved in as many opportunities as possible. Studying gives you a great platform and skill set. But by showing enthusiasm and interest you meet new people and get new ideas. I am only where I am now by reaching out to researchers and asking to help out in my spare time. It gave me an opportunity to learn some basic GIS skills and each project led to more responsibility, ultimately leading to a job.

Clockwise from top left: Dr Lucy Hawkes, Dr Matt Witt, Owen Exeter, Chris Kerry and Jessica Rudd

 

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

Just go for it! I wasn’t sure I had enough experience for a science-based MSc but there is plenty of support if you are willing to put the hard work in. I didn’t have a huge scientific background and was worried I would struggle to keep up. The reality was there are so many varied opportunities and I found working with geospatial data just made sense. 

Thanks Owen!

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

IPCC Research Confidence in the field of Coral Reef Futures – Jennifer McWhorter

Research Confidence in the field of Coral Reef Futures

(Based on IPCC 2019 Report, Chapter 5, Changing Ocean, Marine Ecosystems, and Dependent Communities)

Author, Jennifer McWhorter, PhD Candidate QUEX (Universities of Queensland and Exeter)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) consists of a team of top researchers and scientists advising global climate action. Recently, the IPCC wrote a special report updating research findings pertaining to 1.5 ℃ of warming, of particular interest to my field of research is the section on coral reefs. Based on Chapter 5 of the latest IPCC report (Bindoff, N.L et al., 2019), I have highlighted the consensus of scientific research by summarizing key topics of coral reef research by research confidence. In italics are statements summarized from the report.

 

Very High Confidence Overview of Research

Some alarming numbers on the future of coral reefs were confidently stated in the latest IPCC report, “coral reefs are projected to decline by a further 70-90% at 1.5 ℃ with larger losses (>99%) at 2 ℃ ”. Since the industrial revolution in the 19th century, human activities have contributed to approximately 1.0 ℃ of global warming. At our current rate of emissions, global warming is estimated to reach 1.5 ℃ between 2030 and 2052. (IPCC, 2019: Summary for Policymakers). To give you some perspective on those numbers, future generations will have a difficult time finding coral reefs in the state in which we have had the privilege of experiencing them.

The corals in the image above were photographed two months apart showing the effect of the last warming event at Pixie Reef, just north of Cairns, on the Great Barrier Reef. On the left, the corals are healthy and then two months later, the image on the right shows many of the same corals are stressed and near mortality (bleached or white in colour). (Photo credit: Brett Monroe Garner)

 

High Confidence Overview of Research

When the human body has a weakened immune system, such as experiencing chemotherapy from cancer treatment, a common cold or flu can be detrimental, leading to a worsened state or even death. Coral reefs facing multiple disturbances such as warming and ocean acidification, reef dissolution and bioerosion, enhanced storm intensity, enhanced turbidity, and/or enhanced run-off have a lower chance of recovery. In the future, when faced with multiple threats, there will be a shift in species composition and biodiversity. This shift will be towards soft corals and algal dominated reefs as opposed to reef building corals. Albeit, regional differences in levels of reef vulnerability exist on a scale of 100 km or by latitudinal gradients.

The image above portrays an example of the shift in dominance from reef building corals to a dominance of non-coral organisms, such as the pictured ascidian, Didemnum molle and algae in Palau, Micronesia. (Photo credit: Dr. Kennedy Wolfe)

 

Medium Confidence Overview of Research

Record breaking warm water temperatures during 2014-2017 resulted in severe and wide-spread global coral mortality (Eakin et al., 2019). The reefs that have survived this event have a higher thermal threshold resulting in a dominance of species that are not as sensitive and have a high adaptive capacity. Is this a glimmer of hope? Perhaps but, it is important to note that this is the category of medium confidence of an overview of the research.

Branching corals are typically less resilient in warm water conditions than stony, non-branching corals (Hughes et al., 2018). This juvenile Acropora (branching coral) offers hope of recovery on a reef in Palau, Micronesia. (Photo credit: Dr. Kennedy Wolfe)

In a physical world, the ocean is complex, different zones of the ocean experience various conditions in space and time. Coral reef habitats are not uniform. Deeper coral reefs (30-150m) and upwelling zones may serve as a refuge and source of larval supply to disturbed reefs. On the contrary, these reefs could be more at risk than suggested.

Low Confidence Overview of Research

Coral reefs require certain light and temperature conditions in order to grow. The rate of sea level rise may outpace coral growth. Sea level rise would send corals into deeper habitats potentially limiting these ideal light and temperature conditions.

Resilience and adaptation is broadly still unknown, few reefs are showing resilience. Luckily, some of the best in the world are working hard to close this gap.

In Palau, Micronesia, Professor Peter Mumby descends onto the reef. Pete’s Marine Spatial Ecology Lab conducts research into coral reef ecosystems, fisheries, modeling, and socioeconomics. (Photo credit: Dr. Kennedy Wolfe)

Support climate change research initially by learning about it. Thank you for reading.

You can follow Jen on Twitter to keep up to date with her research!

#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 Michael Hanley or visit our website!

 

References:

Bindoff, N.L., W.W.L. Cheung, J.G. Kairo, J. Arístegui, V.A. Guinder, R. Hallberg, N. Hilmi, N. Jiao, M.S. Karim, L. Levin, S. O’Donoghue, S.R. Purca Cuicapusa, B. Rinkevich, T. Suga, A. Tagliabue, and P. Williamson, 2019: Changing Ocean, Marine Ecosystems, and Dependent Communities. In: IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate [H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, V. Masson-Delmotte, P. Zhai, M. Tignor, E. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, A. Alegría, M. Nicolai, A. Okem, J. Petzold, B. Rama, N.M. Weyer (eds.)]. In press.

Eakin, C. Mark, Hugh PA Sweatman, and Russel E. Brainard. “The 2014–2017 global-scale coral bleaching event: insights and impacts.” Coral Reefs 38.4 (2019): 539-545.

Hughes, T. P., Kerry, J. T., Baird, A. H., Connolly, S. R., Dietzel, A., Eakin, C. M., … & McWilliam, M. J. (2018). Global warming transforms coral reef assemblages. Nature, 556(7702), 492.

IPCC, 2019: Summary for Policymakers. In: IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate [H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, V. Masson-Delmotte, P. Zhai, M. Tignor, E. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, A. Alegría, M. Nicolai, A. Okem, J. Petzold, B. Rama, N.M. Weyer (eds.)]. In press.

My Exeter PhD: Understanding marine citizenship, Pamela Buchan

To make change happen, we need to understand what motivates people to act. Today we hear from Pamela Buchan, PhD student with the University of Exeter who is studying Marine Citizenship.

Words by Pamela Buchan, PhD researcher at University of Exeter and elected councillor with Plymouth City Council.

There is a new environmental movement sweeping the world, spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, and carried forward by young people who are demanding a better future. Climate change concern in the UK is polling higher than it ever has before, and even the British government has caught wind of the desire to reduce plastic consumption. The global climate strike saw 7.6 million people around the world take to the streets. People are protesting, signing petitions, switching to electric vehicles, changing their behaviours, and making more sustainable choices to create cleaner seas and a sustainable future for everyone. This is environmental citizenship in action.

School children strike for climate, 20th September 2019. Credit: Pamela Buchan

 

Global climate strike in Plymouth, 20th September 2019. Credit: Pamela Buchan

For three years I’ve been investigating the idea of marine citizenship in a bid to better understand what drives people to become active marine citizens, what it is about the sea that is particularly motivating, and how do policies and legislation work to promote or hinder marine citizenship actions. Actions that benefit the marine environment are likely to benefit the climate also, and this might be a gateway to broader environmental citizenship. As someone who grew up in the middle of the moors with little access to the sea, it was the desire to be near the sea that first took me to Newcastle University to study marine biology and later relocate with my family to Plymouth to benefit from the ocean culture in this city and region. For me, it’s all about the sea, but what about others who are active in marine environmentalism? Does the sea as a place occupy others’ hearts in the same way?

Greta Thunberg departs from Plymouth for the US, aboard the carbon neutral Team Malizia yacht, on 14th August 2019. Credit: Pamela Buchan

Research around creating environmental citizens is often focused on environmental education and awareness raising. If people understand, are aware, and know what to do, then they’ll crack on and do it, right? This leads to lots of research investigating the perceptions, attitudes, and knowledge held by the general public, which then provides the basis of programmes to increase pro-environmental behaviours. See, for example, the list of research informing the DEFRA Framework for Pro-Environmental Behaviours, which probably explains why the goal for reaching the “unengaged and unwilling” is to: “encourage and support more sustainable behaviours through a mix of labelling, incentive and reward, infrastructure provision and capacity building (e.g. through information, education and skills).” (Emphasis mine.)

Research contributing to DEFRA Framework for Pro-Environmental Behaviours, 2007.

Undoubtedly, knowing effective ways to act is an important part of environmental citizenship but clearly it is not the whole solution. If we only ask questions about what people know, then we will only find answers that relate to knowledge. And despite many attempts at environmental education, carbon emissions continue to rise, oceans continue to be exploited and polluted, and even littering and flytipping seem to be on the increase. Knowledge isn’t changing people’s behaviours towards the environment so we need to look more deeply and holistically for other factors.

One field to turn to is environmental psychology and theories around values and identities. Social psychologist, Susan Clayton, has developed a theory that environmental activists share an environmental identity. Other researchers have argued that environmentalism is based on self-transcendent values, such as benevolence and universalism (e.g. Stern et al. 1999 and many since). We must acknowledge that not all people hold strong environmental identities or altruistic values, yet there is a lack of evidence exploring how different kinds of people can be motivated into environmental citizenship. If we are to tackle the environmental problems of today, we need at the very least for all people to be open to policy changes.

Enjoying the sea. Credit: Pamela Buchan

My PhD[1] seeks to fill this gap, specifically for marine citizenship. I set out to create space in my research design that would accommodate all findings relevant to this idea. Though my research design draws on theories from environmental psychology, human geography, and environmental law, my use of mixed methods allows me to piece together these theories with emergent findings. In my research, I surveyed, interviewed and shadowed active marine citizens, using psychological metrics and open ended interviews side by side. I found my population through case study marine groups and the national citizen science programme Capturing Our Coast and, using my survey data, I purposefully selected as broad a range of interview participants as I could. Selecting respondents with low self-transcendent values, higher self-enhancing values, a wide range of demographic variables, and as wide a range of relationships with place as was possible from the survey population.

My goal was to find the stories of people who are different. How do people who don’t fit the existing research models come to be active marine citizens? In my final year, I am still analysing my data and pulling it all together, but I have some surprising and tantalising headline findings emerging. The data has been telling me that marine citizenship is not so much a set of pro-marine environmental behaviours, but rather such behaviours are an expression of a marine identity. This marine identity is triggered, developed, or maintained, through sensory experience of the sea that promotes attachment and dependency. It seems that for marine citizens, as with myself, it is the sea itself which motivates citizenship. But there is diversity in marine identity, with people’s values shaping their motivations and types of actions they participate in. It does seem that people with a range of value sets can and do become active marine citizens via their connection to the sea.

There is already research showing that aligning climate change messaging towards specific values will encourage concern in those who are previously unconcerned (see for example Myers et al., 2012). My research points to the potential of the sea as a means of public engagement, which is arguably exemplified in real time through the ‘Blue Planet effect’ in which people have been spurred to reduce single-use plastics. If the experiential qualities of the sea can help people develop a marine identity and, from that, a willingness to perform pro-marine environmental behaviours, then it may be a valuable pathway towards improved ocean and climate health.

South Milton, Devon. Credit: Pamela Buchan

[1] ESRC funded on the interdisciplinary Environment, Energy and Resilience pathway, now known as Sustainable Futures

Further reading:

Read more about the psychological aspects of marine citizenship in my paper Citizens of the Sea: defining marine citizenship, delivered at the International Conference on Environmental Psychology, 2019.

I’ll be presenting on my PhD research at the Coastal Futures conference in London in January 2020.

Follow Pam on Twitter.

#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 Michael Hanley or visit our website!

MSc Graduate in Focus: Jennifer Cruce Horeg

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 Jennifer Cruce Horeg, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2009) and now working for the U.S. Department of Navy in Guam, Micronesia!

 

Hi Jennifer! It’s been 10 years since you studied with us, why don’t you tell us a bit about your career in that time that led you to where you are now?

I now work in Guam for the U.S. Dept of Navy as a Conservation Resource Program Manager.

After I graduated I continued to work under a grant with NOAA-NMFS to monitor the nesting sea turtle population in Ulithi Atoll, Yap, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). In 2011 I accepted a biologist/Deputy Refuge Manager position with the US Fish and Wildlife Service at the Guam National Wildlife Refuge. In 2015, I accepted a position as a Natural Resource Specialist at the Andersen Air Force Base on Guam. After two years I moved to the Joint Region Marianas Office (still on Guam) as the Conservation Resource Program Manager.

Before studying my Masters I had been living and working in Yap, FSM working under a NOAA-NMFS grant to study the nesting sea turtle population in Ulithi Atoll. I spent a year contacting schools who offered relevant masters programme’s. My goal was to continue the research in Ulithi and use the data I was collecting for a master’s thesis. All of the schools in the US stated that they would be unable to accommodate my work overseas. I would have to work on funded projects within their department. Finally, I contacted Dr. Brendan Godley who was very positive and responsive to my inquiry and thought that the MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity programme would be a perfect fit with the research project I was working with in Yap.

We’re glad you chose to study with us! What did you enjoy most about studying in Penryn?

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Penryn Campus! It was safe, comfortable, and conducive to learning.

Being from the US I was so excited to live and study overseas. The Penryn Campus is in a beautiful location. I walked about 45 minutes from my flat to campus and spent about every day, all day on campus studying and going to class. It was a safe and lovely campus. I felt like the environment helped me be and do my best.

The location is very unique being at the southern end of England in a beautiful location. Other MSc students and I students took weekend trips to tour around Falmouth, Penzance, and other southern towns for fun. The town of Penryn is very low key and quiet. I enjoyed it very much.

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

Through my 10-plus year career since graduating I would say that all of the coursework we studied in the MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity has surfaced at one time or another. I appreciated how practical some of the coursework was. I also gained a group of intelligent, funny, and diverse friends from my programme that I still keep in touch with. This network of colleagues along with our instructors have helped me many times along the way.

Some of the basic skills that are needed but rarely covered in most master’s programmes’ such as: how to design and present oral and poster presentation, preparing a quality CV, writing a grant proposal, etc. I still have the instruction and templates from when I was a student and have referenced them several times during my professional career. Those were very helpful.

The programme itself was solid and fun. I grew and learned so much in my time there.

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

The key to everything is to have no perceptions or expectations – meaning keep an open mind. If possible be willing to travel. Take every opportunity to attend a lecture, presentation, conference, field training, etc. This not only helps you grow in knowledge but widens your network. Also, it helps to be nice and easy to work with. I can say that a lot of my movement up in my career has been because I am a team player and I get along well with just about anyone.

I would highly suggest any programme at Centre for Ecology and Conservation. The instructors and support staff are amazing! I have seen all of my friends from the 2007-08 MSc group go on to have amazing careers.

Thanks Jennifer!

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: Phil Doherty

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 Phil Doherty, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2011) and now a Post Doctoral Research Associate with the University of Exeter!

 

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

Upon finishing my MSc I was offered a short-term contract (3 months) in Penryn as a field assistant analysing video data captured from Baited Remote Underwater Videos (BRUVs) at renewable energy testing sites. This turned into a longer contract (18 months) continuing to develop methodology and analysis of the BRUV project. During this time I was part of applying for funding with the Scottish Government to satellite track basking sharks with the aim of designating a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Scottish waters. This bid was successful and became my PhD. I completed my PhD in 2017 and worked short-term on a few ongoing projects within the wider ExeterMarine group as a research assistant before acquiring my current postdoctoral position. I have been very lucky in being given the chance to work on a wide range of projects and to be supported in roles within the research group.

It’s lovely to have you with us! What do you enjoy most about studying and working with us at the University of Exeter Cornwall Campus?

The location itself is a massive draw. The campus and surrounding towns are very close to many beautiful beaches. I think the fact that the CEC is actively involved in cutting edge research is a huge plus in terms of conducting a masters within the department. This access to research groups and data makes for exciting projects from which to write your thesis. It can also provide opportunities to work on real data that may contribute to ongoing research projects on the whole. For me this was the best part of my MSc, conducting fieldwork with a NGO.

I was looking to broaden my skillset, but also be exposed to academic research. I was unsure of the exact route I wanted to take in the sector and so experience in different facets of research and research groups, NGO’s, consultancies etc. sounded like a good opportunity to find out which aspects suited me to pursue further.

The staff’s openness and willingness to engage and help throughout the course was great, it felt like they cared and wanted you to succeed. The fieldcourse to Kenya was an obvious highlight. It was great to learn about current conservation issues and how those working in the field are attempting to manage and mitigate these issues.

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

It turns out research was the element I enjoyed most, and so the time to be able to conduct a thesis was the highlight of the course for me, but also the part which best set me up to pursue the next phase of my career. I was lucky enough to get a position with a NGO working on various aspects of applied marine conservation. Using a long-term dataset and ground-truthing results in the field provided me with many skills in which I would need to progress.

I chose to pursue applied marine ecology and conservation as a career as I’ve always been fascinated with the ocean and the animals living within it – especially when and where animals move to/from. I also feel the knowledge gained on species should be used to some extent to help update or inform other knowledge gaps and this is a great avenue for that.

 

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

I would think about what you would like to get out of obtaining a masters, and how it might shape the next move you make. Do some research, contact members of staff to enquire about ongoing research and opportunities. Treat it like a job and make the most of the expertise and experience on offer.

 

Thanks Phil!

You can see what Phil gets up to at the University of Exeter at his Profile and you can follow him 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 Graduate in Focus: Sarah Nelms

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 Sarah Nelms, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2014) and now a Post Doctoral Research Associate with the University of Exeter!

Sarah Nelms in Svalbard during her PhD Credit: Rachel Coppock

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

After completing my MSc I immediately began a graduate role with my master’s thesis supervisor which then led to me getting a PhD scholarship at Plymouth Marine Lab and University of Exeter. Upon completing my PhD earlier this year, I was offered a postdoc position back the UoE Penryn campus.

 

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

I loved everything about studying in Cornwall! The campus is beautiful and Falmouth and the surrounding areas are friendly and relaxed. The beaches and countryside are fantastic for an outdoorsy person like myself. The department is very welcoming and I felt like a member of a community that celebrates the achievements of staff and students alike.

The small and friendly campus is what makes UoE Penryn so special. It’s easy to meet people and connect and there are plenty of spots around campus to inspire you.

A Microplastics Survey, Credit: Emily Duncan

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 important things I gained during the MSc was confidence. The support I received was hugely influential in helping me realise my potential as a scientist and I thrived in that environmentThe network of friends and peers I was able to build has also benefitted me since finishing my course. 

Additionally, the practical skills I learnt during the MSc, such as science communication, statistical analysis, time-management, were essential during my PhD.

I’d advise anyone looking to follow a career in academia to gain as much practical experience as possible and try lots of things so you can make an informed decision about what direction you want to head in.

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

Work really hard but take quality time off, meet lots of people, be organized and enjoy it!

You won’t regret it! 

Thanks Sarah!

Analysing seal scat for microplastics

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

The Underwater Film Festival comes to Falmouth and ExeterMarine Photo Competition!

We are super excited to announce that the Underwater Film Festival is coming to the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus! To celebrate here at ExeterMarine, we have decided to launch a photography competition!

On Friday 22nd November, together with Fourth Element, Falmouth University and the University of Exeter, we will host the Underwater Film Festival at the Penryn Campus. Doors open from 7.30pm. So clear your diaries and come and spend an evening with us delving in to the wonderful underwater world with some awe inspiring films. Be swept away, be inspired by the stories told, and be immersed in a world beneath the surface. Featuring films from greats such as Kelvin Murray, Shark Bay Films, Behind the Mask and Howard Hall as well as shorts made by students and recent graduates of both the University of Exeter and Falmouth University, it surely a night not to be missed! You can grab your tickets here, tickets start at just £5!

We will also be announcing the winners of our photography competition at the event! Prizes kindly donated by Fourth Element are as follows:

1st Place: £250 Fourth Element Voucher
1st Runner Up: £100 Fourth Element Voucher
2nd Runner Up: £50 Fourth Element Voucher

The competition is open to everyone to showcase the wonderful coastal and marine worlds here in Cornwall and Devon, but be quick! You only have 2 weeks to send us your submissions as applications will close at 23:59 on Sunday 17th November.  We are looking for images that showcase the beautiful maritime landscapes, wonderful marine wildlife, awesome underwater worlds and the diverse people that depend on the coastal and marine world in Cornwall and Devon. Everyone is welcome to submit up to two photographs to the competition. We will showcase all entries on the ExeterMarine Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds and all entries will be shown at the Underwater Film Festival on Friday 22nd November. So what are you waiting for? Submit your images here!

We look forward to seeing all of your brilliant entries and we’ll see you at the Underwater Film Festival on Friday 22nd November!