In a few short weeks I will be embarking on my PhD journey with QUADRAT, researching the ‘Energetics and survival of an apex predator – the African lion – in a rapidly changing environment’. Having just completed my MSci Zoology with Professional Studies at QUB I am excited at the prospect of contributing to our understanding of apex predators and their conservation.
Throughout my undergraduate degree, I was fortunate in the experiences I was able to partake in. I previously completed an internship with the Society for the Protection of Turtles (SPOT) in northern Cyprus where I monitored female nesting behaviour, recorded morphometrics, took biopsies for genetic analysis, and screened nests to reduce their rate of predation. In addition, I aided in necropsies examining the prevalence of microplastics in the gastrointestinal tracts of Mediterranean marine turtles. This rewarding experience consolidated my love of field work and community led conservation.
My studies then led me to northern Thailand for my placement year, where I worked with a Karen hill tribe to contribute towards a sustainable elephant tourism initiative. Here, I collected Asian elephant movement data for my BSc Honours project; examining the behaviour and activity profiles of semi-wild animals.
In my penultimate year, I was awarded a summer studentship wherein I was given time to develop my skills whilst also gaining exposure to new projects and collaborations. I am drawn to obtaining as much field and computational research experience as possible to build a foundation that I can draw upon at each new opportunity. QUADRAT provides the perfect framework for me to be able to hone these skills in a supportive environment that aligns with my research interests.
Each project has motivated me to make an impact by addressing some of the most important ecological questions surrounding the conservation and persistence of species in light of climate change and a burgeoning human population. I aim to shine light on the future persistence of a much-loved species that plays an integral part in ecosystem functionality. This DTP opportunity will help me to grow as a researcher and I am eager to see where the next few years will lead.