MSc Graduate in Focus: Lucia Yllan

In our Graduate in Focus series we look at the achievements of our MSc graduates who have excelled in marine science around the world since studying with us. Today we meet Lucia Yllan, MSc Marine Vertebrate Ecology & Conservation graduate (2021) and now a PhD student at Newcastle University working on the role of acoustic cues in anemonefish hierarchies. 

 

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What have you been doing since leaving Exeter?  And what do you enjoy most about your work?

Since finishing the Msc Marine Vertebrate Ecology and Conservation, I have participated in two research projects on anemonefish social hierarchies in Papua New Guinea and started my PhD at Newcastle University working on the role of acoustic cues in anemonefish hierarchies. The thing I enjoy the most about my work is travelling to other parts of the word to dive and enjoy the beauty of the marine life.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

What I enjoyed the most about the programme was the seminars where researchers form other universities, NGOs or other research groups would come to talk to us about their work which I found very inspiring. It also was a great opportunity to network and, nowadays, one of the researchers that came to give us a talk is one of the collaborators of my PhD project.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Exeter and what did you enjoy most about studying here?

The first thing that caught my attention from Exeter University was the master course that they were offering which perfectly aligned with what I wanted for my career and also included fieldwork opportunities. Also, as an international student and non-native English speaker, the fact that the university offered so many courses and one-on-one meetings to support non-English speakers and help them improve their skills in English was also something that help me decide to enrol in this university.

The thing I enjoyed the most about studying at Exeter, was the opportunity to learn from experienced researchers who were always keen on helping you out if you needed it, and how the modules and assignments were always oriented towards preparing us for an actual work setting.

What skills and experiences from your course have been most useful for your career?

The skills that have help me the most in my career have been my skills in statistical analysis which I believe are key for any researcher, and also my English writing skills which greatly improved in my time studying at Exeter University thanks to all the feedback I received from the language team and the lecturers from my modules.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue a similar career?

My main advice is to try to get in contact with as many people as you can when you are studying. Let senior researcher know that you are interested in their research topics and volunteer to help as much as you can. This helps you create a network and also build your skills, which will bring you a lot of opportunities in the future.

What are your plans for the future?

My plan for the future, after I finish my PhD, is to do a Post-doc and keep on working on fish behaviour which is a topic that fascinates me. I also have an interest on teaching and outreach and I would like to continue doing so in the future.

Interested in studying with us? Our world-leading marine research underpins a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes: Research-led teaching | Exeter Marine | University of Exeter

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: Liliana Poggio Colman

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 Liliana Colman, MSc Conservation and Biodiversity graduate (2013) and now a postdoctoral researcher at projeto TAMAR in Brazil and the University of Exeter!

Hi Lili! First off, why don’t you tell us a bit about what you have been up to since studying your MSc with us?

After graduating from my MSc, I returned to Brazil, and whilst working as an environmental consultant there, I applied for a PhD at Exeter to work with TAMAR (the Brazilian Sea Turtle Conservation Programme). I was granted a scholarship from the Brazilian Government through a programme called Science Without Borders, and I went back to the UK to conduct my PhD studies, investigating the ecology and conservation of leatherback sea turtles in Brazil. I have recently finished my PhD and I am currently starting a postdoctoral research to continue the research with the leatherbacks in Brazil.

Photo with thanks from Henrique Filgueras

We’re glad you are still working with us! How did you find the move to Cornwall from Brazil?

It was my first experience living abroad and from the moment I arrived at the University of Exeter to undertake my MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity, I quickly fell in love with the University, the Campus and Cornwall. Discovering all the cutting-edge research being carried out across the University of Exeter has been a definite highlight for me. Being able to continue surfing while conducting my studies was an amazing part of being at the Penryn Campus and I believe it helped me a lot to stay positive and a great way of making new friends.

I had a great experience while living in Cornwall. I loved it so much that I decided to come back and conduct a PhD for four years in Cornwall. I think the University is very committed into ensuring students are well supported. I had English tutors who helped me a lot with the language both in academic and social aspects. The campus surroundings are super calm and easy going. Falmouth has a great student vibe, with lots going on for people to enjoy during their time off.

For me it was a great personal and life experience. I had the chance to live in a different country, experience a new culture and make new friends. I learned how to improve my language skills and be able to communicate in my second language (including making jokes!).

 

We’re glad you had such a great time in Cornwall! How do you think your time here has helped you in your career?

I believe the MSc Conservation and Biodiversity definitely helped me to prepare for my current role. During the MSc I learned I wanted to be a researcher and the programme helped me to gain skills which were key for conducting my PhD. I particularly benefitted from an improved academic English (which is my second language), GIS, statistics and from data analysis during my research project.

The campus is great as it is surrounded by nature. The University has modern facilities (lecture and seminar rooms, laboratories, library). There is a great variety of research being conducted at the University which makes it a place for cutting-edge research with loads of seminars, talks, workshops. And being in Cornwall makes it even better, because it is such a unique place to visit and to live.

Finally, Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of applying to any of our programmes at the University of Exeter and pursuing a career in conservation?

Do it!

Thanks Lili!

You can follow Lili and Projeto TAMAR on Twitter (@lilipcolman, @Projeto_TAMAR) and Instagram (lilicolman, projeto_tamar_oficial) ! 

 

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