- 2020–Present: PhD Researcher, Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet DTP, Institute of Zoology and Imperial College London
- 2017–2019: Masters placement followed by research internship, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences
- 2013–2019: MSci, Marine and Freshwater Biology (First Class), University of Glasgow
Through my work to date, I have developed an interest in the application of molecular methods in ecology and conservation, primarily in coral reef ecosystems. As a relatively new and fast paced field, I am interested in using these methods to uncover diversity in difficult to study ecosystems and contribute to our understanding of the intricacies and applications of environmental DNA and metabarcoding.
My PhD project aims to investigate the biodiversity and community structure of micro-eukaryotic (e.g., zooplankton, phytoplankton) and macrofaunal communities (e.g., corals) on coral reefs within the Chagos Archipelago, Indian Ocean, using environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques. The Chagos Archipelago is a remote no-take marine protected area which is almost completely uninhabited. The Archipelago consequently suffers from minimal human impacts and therefore acts as a rare reference site to study natural biodiversity patterns. Due to its location, the Chagos Archipelago is also likely to be connected via planktonic dispersion to other shallow reefs in the Indian Ocean and act as an important ‘stepping-stone’ for marine organisms.
The overarching objectives of the project are to; (1) estimate the plankton community structure within the atoll lagoons and outer reefs of the Chagos Archipelago using eDNA, (2) and to identify what physical environmental variables, e.g., turbidity, water velocity, O2 concentrations, maybe driving community structure in the water column. Project partners at Stanford University (Prof. R. Dunbar) have ongoing projects monitor environmental conditions at a number of sites across the archipelago which will be highly relevant to the second objective.
This project forms part of a larger 4-year project investigating the marine biodiversity of understudied fauna in the Chagos Archipelago, funded by the Bertarelli Program for Marine Science. This project is also supported by CASE partner NatureMetrics, an exciting start-up using DNA-based techniques to monitor biodiversity and involved in the standardisation of eDNA methods.
Dr Chris Yesson (Institute of Zoology, ZSL)
Dr Catherine Head (Institute of Zoology, ZSL)
Dr Emma Ransome (Dept of Life Sciences, Imperial College London)