I completed my BSc in Psychology at University College London before going on to work in the qualitative market research industry, which looked at consumer decision-making through focus groups, workshops, and community forums. I then decided to follow my interests in marine ecosystems by completing an MSc in Tropical Marine Biology at the University of Essex, during which I spent time working in an otolith lab group looking at salmon migrations. After completing my master's I went straight into my interdisciplinary PhD position which uses a combination of social and ecosystem science to produce research with actionable outcomes.
I’m primarily interested in sustainable marine management and how we can improve the health of our marine ecosystems as well as the ecosystem services they provide. My experience in human psychology and decision-making means I am particularly motivated to work with key stakeholders across different industries to improve communication and look at how we can use interdisciplinary methods to more effectively manage marine resources. Working with a charity like the Community of Arran Seabed Trust has given me insight into how a successful Marine Protected Area can be implemented with the support of all stakeholders.
My PhD research is looking at how we set ecosystem thresholds which determine whether marine areas are in a good or degraded state. By monitoring ecological variables that are proxies for overall ecosystem health, we can get an idea of the state that an ecosystem is in, but defining the point at which that variable reaches a degraded state requires setting a threshold and the methods currently used to do this are not always clearly defined or quantitatively generated. By being able to identify which environments are degraded and which are healthy, governmental bodies can proactively implement ecosystem-based management approaches to improve or maintain the overall state of that area.
As the UN Ocean Decade gets underway, nations are looking to improve the health of their marine environments but in order to do this there must be a logical, quantitatively robust method of determining the status of each marine ecosystem. Working groups across government advisory bodies are currently working on identifying these methods whilst also considering the impacts on ecosystem services, so the outcomes of this project will not only be relevant and beneficial for these conversations but will result in research that could improve the way in which we manage our marine resources.