What drew you to the course?
Since a young age I had always wanted to become a marine mammal biologist. In order to pursue this dream working with marine mega fauna I knew I would need to undertake a relevant degree in marine science.
What attracted you to the University of Stirling?
While studying at high school I searched around for various Marine Biology degree programmes in Scotland and I had heard positive recommendations for studying at Stirling as it had the added benefit of a world-famous aquaculture department which works closely with the Marine Biology programme.
Did you belong to any clubs or societies?
I was one of the founding members of the International Society and was also the club’s president for two years. I was also the Events co-ordinator for the Sub Aqua club.
Did you have an internship, mentorship or Study Abroad semester?
I pursued every opportunity I could to boost my experience and ensure my CV was as strong as possible when it came to my graduation. In the summer of 2004, I worked at the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco and I also volunteered at the Marine Mammal Center where I worked hands on in marine mammal care and rescue. In 2005 I then interned with Mote Marine Laboratory Whale and Dolphin Hospital in Florida and with the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program as an assistant field researcher. I also worked with the sea lions at Blair Drummond Safari park in my spare time as an assistant trainer. This experience led from one opportunity to another and enriched my student experience and helped me gain employment straight after graduation.
Were there any particular lectures or modules that really hit home?
I have always been fascinated by aquatic animal health and parasitology so modules covering these topics were definitely my favourites and most interesting.
Who has inspired you?
External to the University I was fortunate to intern and volunteer alongside some very influential marine mammal biologists and veterinarians and I am very grateful to Dr Marty Haulena, Dr Randy Wells and Dr Christine Shepard for helping launch my exciting career all those years ago.
How instrumental do you think your degree has been in your life?
Having a degree in marine biology has opened so many doors for me and launched me on an incredible career where I travel the world almost non-stop since 2006. Over the past 14 years, I have worked on over 50 marine and coastal projects globally in far eastern Russia, South America, New Zealand, Africa and Asia. I have gained valuable experience working in protected areas and UNESCO marine biosphere reserves. With extensive experience in marine mammal fieldwork, and aquatic mammal and reptile health assessments.
What advice would you give to a prospective student or your younger self?
I say this to all the students I have mentored over the years which is that they need to take advantage of their spare time outside of studies while at university and find relevant work experience opportunities such as internships, volunteer programmes and even short courses. I would recommend joining a professional institute also as they offer free student membership, support and also offer funding grants. By strengthening the CV things will definitely be easier at graduation for finding relevant employment. Also don’t be afraid to network as it’s not just what you know but who you know.