Programme start date: 16th September 2013
I have a BSc Marine and Environmental Biology from the University of St Andrews and MSc Conservation and Biodiversity from University of Exeter.
What were you doing prior to this programme?
I took part in a couple of research projects prior to starting this programme. The first project was based in Mauritius with the Mauritius Marine Conservation Society (MMCS) and involved assisting in field-based boat research on the population parameters of coastal whales, Hawaiian spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) and inshore bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncas). The data collection contributed to a long-term study on how resident marine mammals are impacted by the growing boat-based tourist industry. The second project was based just outside Boston with The Whale Centre of New England (WCNE), and primarily involved boat-based field data collection and analyses of Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) behaviours. I received marine mammal stranding training and assisted in 2 Humpback whale necropsies in New York and Rhode Island. Using the visual and tag data collected between 2004 and 2009 I was able to contribute to the publication of a study on Humpback whale feeding behaviours in Animal Behaviour journal.
What attracted you to studying at IDCORE?
I have always had an interest in marine renewable energy and in particular the impacts on the marine environment. The next logical academic stage for me would have been to do a PhD which did not particularly interest me as I wanted to do something that was industrially-focussed but still allowed me to conduct research. I liked how the EngD course was structured and thought it would significantly widen my skill set as well as my knowledge within the industry.
What attracted you to offshore renewables industry?
I have always had a keen interest in the marine environment and anthropogenic impacts, particularly global climate change as a result of burning fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases. In order to combat this and preserve our environment it is crucial that we move to renewable sources for our energy production. Onshore wind energy is already fairly well-established but the offshore resources – wave, wind and tidal are still requiring a lot more research which is something I want to be a part of.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
Academically my biggest achievement is my publication in Animal Behaviour, for which I was a senior author: Canning, C., Crain, D., Eaton JR, T.D., Nuessly, K., Friedlaender, A., Hurst, T., Parks, S., Ware, C., Wiley, D. & Weinrich, M (2011) Population-level lateralized feeding behaviour in North Atlantic humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae. Animal Behaviour, 82 (4), 901-909.
What ambition would you like to fulfil as a Research Engineer?
Ideally I would like to be able to combine my expertise as a Marine Biologist with the knowledge I will gain in industry as a Research Engineer to work towards maximising the amount of energy we use from renewable sources and also minimising the potential impacts to the marine environment. It would be great to show other people with a similar background that these skills are transferable across different sectors and an interest in protecting the marine environment doesn’t necessary limit you to a career in conservation. Get involved in marine renewables!