Exeter Marine Podcast: Becoming Marine Biologists – with Lauren Henly, Emma Weschke and Tim Gordon

This episode was recorded back in early 2019. Ben talks to Lauren Henly, Emma Weschke and Tim Gordon, who are all masters by research or PhD students in Prof. Steve Simpson’s research group (you might remember Steve from an earlier episode, Coral Reef Bioacoustics Part I). The discussion focuses around the research they’re all undertaking, what got them interested in marine biology, and what they have done so far.

 


 

About our guests:

Emma Weschke

At the time of recording Emma was a masters by research student and is now undertaking a PhD with the University of Bristol focusing on coral reef fish ecology and bioacoustics.

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Lauren Henly 

Lauren is a PhD student with the University of Exeter and Natural England studying functional ecology and behaviour of wrasse to inform management of wrasse fisheries. She provided us with the update below:

 “I’m now in the 3rd year of my PhD. I’ve been developing lots of different methods to assess the sustainability and potential impacts of the Live Wrasse Fishery on the south coast. I’m using genetics to look at the population structure of wrasse along the south coast so we can identify the most effective management unit size, using stable isotopes to predict the ecological impacts of the fishery, and working to ensure the views of other stakeholders (including recreational anglers) are considered when developing management measures for the fishery. It’s great being able to use such a broad range of techniques to address a key issue.”

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Tim Gordon

Tim is completing a PhD with the University of Exeter and the Australian Institute for Marine Science focusing on coral reef bioacoustcs, what can you learn from coral reefs by listening to them. You can find out more about Tim’s work in a previous episode – Coral Reef Bioacoustics Part II.

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Topics discussed:

  • Sustainability of wrasse fisheries around the UK.
  • Ecological consequences of marine anthropogenic noise on coral reefs, both during the day and at night.
  • How fish use underwater soundscapes.
  • Using underwater sound to aid marine conservation efforts.
  • The impacts of the degredation of coral reef marine noise
  • Using underwater speakers to make reefs louder.
  • The bigger picture aspects of working in a research group.
  • What got you into marine biology?

 


 

Resources:

 


 

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: Zara Botterell

This year we are launching two new MSc courses in Marine Environmental Management and 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 conservation around the world since studying with us.

Today we meet Zara Botterell, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2015) and now a PhD student investigating microplastic pollution and zooplankton at Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the University of Essex!

Hi Zara! First off, why did you choose to study at the University of Exeter?

I’ve chosen to study at the University of Exeter twice; to begin with I did my BSc at the Streatham Campus. I was looking to do a broad based biological sciences degree and the course there had a little bit of everything. This was a big draw for me as I didn’t really know what I was interested in the most and didn’t want to specialize too early. The campus was also beautiful, with plenty of green space, in a beautiful city.

Throughout my undergraduate degree I’d naturally gravitated towards ecology, conservation and marine biology and I really wanted to continue with an MSc in these subject areas. My mum actually spotted the MSc Conservation and Biodiversity course and after a quick read I knew it was exactly what I’d like to do. Finances are also big consideration and after some further research I realised that at the time I was also eligible to apply for a scholarship, which I was successful in obtaining.

Immediately after completing my MSc I began a graduate role at the Penryn Campus as a PA and research assistant within the Centre for Ecology and Conservation. After working there for nearly 2 years I was successful in gaining a PhD scholarship at Plymouth Marine Laboratory and University of Essex.

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

The campus is beautiful, with lots of green spaces and being so close to the coast it is perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors and nature.

Everyone in the department was friendly and approachable, where every success of staff and students was celebrated. The field trips were incredible, well planned and thought through to give us a great experience.

I loved the relaxed and friendly environment in Penryn, the campus was beautiful in every season and there are lots of places to explore nearby.

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

During my MSc I learnt many transferable skills such as statistical analysis, science communication and developing my academic writing which have been essential to my PhD. I have also been able to build upon my fieldwork experience and public speaking skills which I first developed during my time at Penryn.

The MSc gave me crucial experience in planning and implementing fieldwork and a great foundation knowledge of using the statistical software R and GIS mapping software which I have since built upon. Time management and organization has been key in my PhD. The variety of modules with different deadlines, different types of work i.e. fieldwork, written assignments meant that I had a lot to keep track of, however this was a great experience for my PhD.

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

My advice for anyone who would like to do a PhD would be to work hard, make the most of any opportunities and get experience doing lots of different things. When it comes to applying for a PhD, whilst subject and location are important, take the time to have a chat with your potential supervisors to see how you get on. For 3-4 years they’ll be supporting and guiding you through your PhD and will be integral to your development, experiences, success and of course enjoyment!

Work hard, be organized, do your best and enjoy! Ensure you have a routine and take quality time off.

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

Apply, you haven’t got anything to lose!

Thanks Zara!

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: Rachael Edwards

This year we are launching two new MSc courses in Marine Environmental Management and 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 conservation around the world since studying with us.

Today we meet Rachael Edwards, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2016) and now a PhD student at the University of Waterloo, Canada and working as a Community Champions Project Manager and Volunteer Coordinator for Sustainable Merton, UK

Hi Rachael! Why don’t you tell us a bit about what you have been up to since studying with us?

For my Masters at the University of Exeter, I evaluated the outcomes and outputs of the Marine Turtle Conservation Project in North Cyprus. This research was recently published in the Journal for Nature Conservation. After completing my MSc, I went directly into a PhD programme at the University of Waterloo, Canada, where I study cultural diversity in the use of parks and protected areas and methods of fostering connection to nature. I am now in the final year of my degree. Although my PhD is through a Canadian University, my research is U.K. focused and I have returned to England for field work. I also work part time for a sustainability charity in London.

 

What did you enjoy about studying in Cornwall?

The smaller size of the Penryn campus created a strong sense of community among the students and faculty. I enjoyed always running into people I knew, both on and off campus. It felt like a campus family and am so thankful for the many friendships I formed over the course of my programme. The surrounding scenery was also breathtaking and there were so many unique habitats to explore.

Campus life, and life in Penryn more generally, was vibrant and laid back at the same time. There were so many clubs to get involved with and, because of the smaller campus, it felt like a very tight knit community. I enjoyed meeting people from outside my program and the campus organizations did a great job of putting on events, organizing trips, and keeping us informed on opportunities to get involved with the wider community.

The combination of Penryn’s beautiful scenery and the friendly campus community is something I think you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. You really feel like you are a part of a campus family. There were so many opportunities to meet new people, take up a new skill, explore the outdoors, and learn about the Cornish culture right on your doorstep.

 

Rachael exploring the English Coast

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

For my PhD, I study outdoor recreation and wellbeing in public open space. The social science research skills I learned while studying at the University of Exeter were invaluable as I began my doctorate and the wide variety of courses and seminars that were offered allowed me to tailor the program to my specific career goals.

The variety of skills and hands-on experiences the course provided were very beneficial as, like many Masters students, I wasn’t exactly sure which direction I wanted to take in my academic journey. This programme exposed us to the many career options that are available, provided the opportunity to learn new research skills, and offered us a wealth of opportunities to contribute to the wider conservation community (I volunteered for the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty during my time in Penryn).

Prior to entering the programme, I didn’t have any experience with social science research methods. Thanks to the numerous courses, lectures, and seminars on human dimensions of conservation offered over the course of my MSc, I left feeling confident in a wide variety of such methods and was inspired to pursue a social science doctorate. Interdisciplinary collaboration is essential for solving complex conservation issues. To promote effective collaboration, it’s important that natural and social scientists are exposed to each other’s research processes and my Masters programme did an exceptional job of this.

I extensively researched Masters programs, and found that the sea turtle conservation work emerging from the University of Exeter’s Marine Turtle Research Group was among the most cited and of a very high standard. I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to contribute to this body of research through recently publishing my MSc dissertation in the Journal for Nature Conservation.

 

On the Kenya Field Course during her MSc

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

I grew up interacting with nature on a daily basis and having quality local green space is still essential for my mental health. Through my doctoral research, I aim to promote equity in the planning and management of public open space to improve community health and wellbeing and foster connection to nature. I enjoy the opportunity to speak with a wide range of people as part of my research and appreciate the challenge and creativity that it takes to design green spaces that meet the needs of such diverse communities. I also enjoy the research and scientific writing process as a whole and having the freedom to immerse myself in new areas of inquiry.

The best advice I can give for someone thinking of starting a PhD is to take initiative over your own studies, embrace opportunities that come your way, and follow your research interests, even if they seem like they are in flux. I think one thing that holds people back is worrying about whether they are making the “right” or “wrong” decision for their career path. What I have learned is that you should stay open minded to new opportunities and it’s never too late to change direction. Chances are things won’t go exactly as expected, but what would be the fun in that?

Thank you Rachael!

 

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: Fisheries and the SOPHIE project, with Dr. Rebecca Short

We were joined by Dr. Rebecca Short in this episode, discussing a variety of work, including her role within the SOPHIE project and her work with fisheries.

 


 

About our guest: Dr. Rebecca Short

Dr. Rebecca Short specialises in marine conservation and biology, currently working on the Seas, Oceans and Public Health in Europe (SOPHIE) project, based at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH). Her work for the project involves conducting a systematic evidence mapping exercise, to synthesise the evidence of human health links with the oceans in Europe. Rebecca’s previous work has included completing her PhD based on the effects of mosquito net fisheries in Northern Mozambique, for which a new paper was recently published. She is also now a committee member of the Marine Social Science Network (MarSocSci), which facilitates multidisciplinary collaboration across the marine sector.

 


 

Topics discussed:

  • Rebecca’s role within the SOPHIE project.
  • Mosquito net use by fisheries in Mozambique.
  • Work with marine aspects of the EDGE of existence project.
  • Rebecca’s role at the ECEHH regarding the use of marine resources. 
  • Rebecca’s new role as a Blue Food Fellow.

 

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Examples above of fish caught in mosquito nets.

 


 

Resources:

 


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: Claire Tanner

This year we are launching two new MSc courses in Marine Environmental Management and 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 conservation around the world since studying with us.

Today we meet Claire Tanner, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2016) and now a PhD student in shorebird behaviour and evolution at the University of Bath!

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

Before I joined the MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity programme in 2015, I had already worked as a sea turtle biologist, a research assistant and a programme director in conservation organisations in Costa Rica, Cape Verde and Ghana. I decided that I wanted to develop a career in research, which was why I chose to undertake an MSc, and then to apply for PhDs. My MSc dissertation was focused on how climate change affected the sex ratios of sea turtles, and for my PhD at the University of Bath, I am currently investigating how sex ratios in adult shorebirds could potentially affect the mating system.

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

Cornwall is such an amazing place to live, with many different habitats to explore during local field trips, the beach nearby to relax with friends, and so many different watersports and outdoor sports to do!

Penryn Campus has such inspiring lecturers that are completing cutting-edge research, and there are many opportunities within modules and extra-curricular talks to hear and meet guest speakers from different career fields. The community of doctoral students and lecturers at Penryn Campus are so enthusiastic about their research, and really supportive of students developing themselves for their chosen careers. It was great to be able to discuss research with lecturers and research staff, especially when the research being conducted is always so current, interesting and progressive.

The lecturers at the CEC were always really supportive and approachable, which made it a very comfortable environment in which to study and enabled me to develop as a scientist and improve my research skills. I really loved the field trip module, which further developed my field work and collaborative skills. It was amazing to be able to visit Kenya to study conservation and learn from conservation managers on the ground, comparing different conservation methods, and discussing future research projects.

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

During my Masters course, I gained many transferrable skills which have been essential for my PhD, including developing my academic writing, improving my ability to make and present posters for presentations and social media, data analysis, and public speaking. It has also given me the confidence to develop as an independent researcher. Before coming to University of Exeter, I had never used R. The statistics module taught me R within 3 months (which is amazing as it’s a whole new coding language), to the extent that I could use it competently for my dissertation results. I now use R extensively for my statistical analyses. It is a skill that I will continue to develop as I use different analyses and models throughout my career.

Do you think there are any factors that make the University of Exeter a unique place to study?

It is the perfect place for students who love the outdoors as there are so many opportunities to take part in outdoor activities. The course is unique and offered so many opportunities to develop my skills for my future career.

I loved that Penryn Campus was a green campus. It was very environmentally friendly with electric campus vehicles, recycling schemes and the “Turn on the Tap” scheme. I was able to start a “Ban the Bottle” campaign with peers to reduce the use of single use plastic bottles on campus. This was then continued with the next cohort and created the water-bar on campus! It was great to be part of a change of behaviours amongst students.

The University of Exeter has also achieved Silver Athena SWAN status. This really inspired me by seeing more women in research and science. Having visited other Universities without such a high Athena SWAN status, it has made me realize just how unique and important this was during my studies.

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

Keep persevering. I applied for PhDs for 2 years while working in an office. It could get disheartening at times, but PhDs are so competitive now for behavioural and evolutionary topics, that it’s very important to keep going, get feedback, and improve applications. Don’t lose hope!

Thanks Claire!

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 – Arctic Terns, Basking Sharks; Bluefin Tuna, with Dr. Lucy Hawkes

 

In this episode we talk to Dr. Lucy Hawkes about a number of her research areas including arctic terns, basking sharks and bluefin tuna. Listen out for a story about a mysterious tuna tag as well.

 


 

About our guest: Dr. Lucy Hawkes 

Lucy is a physiological ecologist, whose work focuses on the costs and drivers of migration in animals (vertebrates and invertebrates) using emergent technologists such as satellite telemetry, heart rate logging, accelerometry and metabolic rate measurements. Lucy uses technical approaches including biologging, spatial ecology, remote sensing and respirometry to make empirical measurements that help in the understanding of amazing migratory performances. Lucy’s work has also investigated the impact of external forcing factors, such as climate change and disease ecology on migration and breeding ecology.

 

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Above: Dr. Lucy Hawkes, Dr. Matt Witt and the team working with basking sharks. Photo credits: Nic Davies

 


 

Topics discussed:

  • Lucy’s experience as a National Geographic Explorer.
  • Tagging and studying bluefin tuna.
  • The long distance migrations of arctic terns.
  • Studying basking shark behaviour.
  • Breaching basking sharks.
  • The journey of a mysterious tuna tag (pictured right).

 

 

 

 


 

Basking shark videos

 


 

Resources:

 


 

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: Josie Palmer

This year we are launching two new MSc courses in Marine Environmental Management and 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 conservation around the world since studying with us.

Today we meet Josie Palmer, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2018) and now a PhD student at University of Exeter!

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

I am a first year PhD student entitled, “Assessing the Impact of Small-Scale Fisheries on Sea Turtle Populations in the Eastern Mediterranean Basin”, with the University of Exeter.

After completing my MSc, I applied for A NERC funded PhD at the University of Exeter, where I reached the final round of the selection process but was unfortunately unsuccessful. I spent 8 months working for the Marine Turtle Conservation Project (MTCP) in North Cyprus from February-October 2019 as an Onboard Fisheries Observer, Stranding and Lab Manager and Team Leader for the Cyprus Bycatch Project and MTCP turtle nesting season. I then applied for the same PhD I was unsuccessful for during Spring 2019 in November 2019 which was advertised with a different type of funding this time and was successful, starting my PhD in January 2020.

What drew you to studying at the University of Exeter after completing your BSc?

I started looking for an MSc in the final year of my undergraduate, and had spoken to a number of my lecturers about courses they would recommend, including my project supervisor and personal tutor, and was highly recommended the MSc at UoE by all of them. The only other course I was looking at was with Imperial College London, but I decided that the research focuses and atmosphere of UoE more closely aligned with what I wanted to do and the experience I wanted to have.

The Penryn Campus is a hub for marine conservation, and I knew I would get a wide variety of opportunities to engage with this as well as receive some of the best lecturing from experts in their field. The coastal lifestyle is definitely one of the main draws for the campus, and definitely took the edge of the stress you can experience while studying.

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

The support from staff is truly unprecedented. I never felt like I couldn’t ask for help or that I was asking a stupid question. You’re not just a student, you’re an individual to the university.

There was a heavy emphasis on the research project aspect of the degree and this is what really started to get me to think more in depth about my work and prepare me for further study and research.

Practicing interview scenarios was incredibly helpful to see how I might be interviewed for future jobs and how to prepare for them. I have gained a whole suite of analytical skills that will be transferable to a wide range of jobs, not just in conservation. There were and still are so many opportunities to practice communicating your research in a friendly and non-judgmental atmosphere, which is something I used to be terrified of doing but have definitely relaxed more with because of these opportunities.

 

Any advice for someone looking to follow a similar career?

I think there is a tendency for people to assume that the best way into this field is to get as much practical experience as possible. Usually it’s assumed this means volunteering abroad to gain fieldwork experience of a particular groups of animals or species. These are definitely core skills you need but there are many other skills that are often overlooked. Some of the best advice I’ve been given is that it’s not about the animal or plant or system that you study, its about having the skills behind the scenes to be able to say something meaningful from your research. Once you have the skills in a particular area of research you can transfer these to many others.

After I complete my PhD, I’d like to continue to work in scientific research but in what capacity I’m not sure yet. One thing I’ve learnt throughout my academic career so far is that you can only do so much planning, and the best decisions I’ve made so far have been through taking things one step at a time and seeing what’s out there and what appeals to you the most when it’s time for your next move!

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

There is something for everyone at the University of Exeter, so if you’re looking for a relaxed and friendly and professional atmosphere to study in, then you’ve found it!

Thanks Josie!

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 II, with Tim Gordon

Show notes

In this episode we talk to Tim Gordon about his work studying coral reef bioacoustics, this is a follow-up from the interview we did with Steve Simpson, which you can find here.


About our guest: Tim Gordon

Tim Gordon is currently undertaking a PhD focussing on how human activities impact underwater bioacoustics. Tim’s area of study uses fieldwork as well as laboratory work and computational analysis, to assess the likely effect of noise pollution on marine life, with the aim of determining how they can best be managed.

Tim was recently rewarded for his science communication efforts, by winning the FameLab International prize for 2019, becoming the first UK national champion of the competition since going global.

 


 

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Topics discussed:

  • Importance of soundscapes for marine animals
  • Changes in underwater biological and human sounds
  • Uses and types of sound underwater
  • Process of reef fish using sound to settle in coral reef habitats
  • Effect of noise pollution on fish orientation

 


 

Resources:

Online Talk: Scientists and Explorers Live – “Songs of the Sea” with Encounter Edu

British Council’s page for Tim’s FameLab competition talk

Talk: “Climate Change: Tales from the front line”

Talk: “Helping Nemo find home”

ResearchGate

Google Scholar

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: 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!