Current Students

Emma Beaton

PhD Student

Emma studied for a BSc in Bioscience with Biomedical Sciences at The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, and graduated in 2013. Her dissertation focussed on the health benefits of Scottish edible seaweed. She obtained her MSc in Plant Diversity from the University of Reading, investigating the evolution of isoflavonoids in the Leguminosae for her project.

In 2015, Emma volunteered at the University of Aberdeen, working on their Falkland Islands seaweed biodiversity project. The project involved sequencing of the DNA barcode 5’ COI loci of algae samples collected from sites across East and West Falkland.

Emma’s PhD research will investigate shallow benthic and intertidal ecology of the Falkland Islands, and is a collaborative project between the University of Aberdeen and the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute

(SAERI). In her project, Emma will build upon the work made by the Shallow Marine Survey Group to enhance the inventory of intertidal species and examine their communities spatially and temporally. During her PhD research, Emma will develop a methodology for surveying and monitoring intertidal habitats in the future and use DNA barcoding to further increase the algal species inventory for the Falkland Islands.

Jacob Hargreaves

PhD Student

Jacob joined SAERI in September 2015 as a shared PhD student with the University of Aberdeen, funded jointly by EASTBIO BBSRC DTP, SAERI and South Georgia. He is co-supervised by Prof. Pieter van West (University of Aberdeen), Prof. David Johnson (University of Aberdeen), Dr Paul Brickle (SAERI) and Dr Jen Lee (South Georgia). He is in the first year of his Ph.D. project which involves investigating the soil fungal diversity on the Falklands and South Georgia. The primary aim of his project involve investigating the impact that introduced reindeer have had on the fungal communities in Falklands and South Georgia, using targeted metagenomics the aim is to amplify and sequence the fungal ITS region to elucidate the fungal genus/species composition and investigate the impact reindeer have had on the soil fungal biota. Secondary aims involve collecting water samples to look for potentially new oomycete species and investigating their morphology and carrying out infectivity studies. Furthermore he intends to collect macrofungi samples and further expand the fungal database on the Falklands and South Georgia. His general scientific interests include ecology, mycology, metagenomics and bioinformatics.

Before coming to Aberdeen in September 2015, Jacob started his bachelor’s degree in Microbiology at Aberystwyth University in Wales, UK. His undergraduate thesis involved investigating the physiology of two species of slime mould, ‘A Physiological Comparison of Badhamia utricularis and Physarum polycephalum – Thermotaxis, Chemotaxis and Interspecies Interactions’. Upon graduating he was given two awards, one from the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University and an award from the Society for General Microbiology for academic achievement. 

Jessica Jones

PhD Student

After the completion of a BSc in Marine Biology at Swansea University, Jess studied an MSc in Oceanography at the University of Southampton, finishing with a distinction in 2013. A few months later she successfully obtained a position as a Scientific Fisheries Observer with the Falkland Island Fisheries Department. During her two years as an observer she undertook extensive field work, spending more than 340 days at sea and started a project analysing the morphometry of the commercially targeted Patagonian long-finned squid (Doryteuthis gahi). This project grew and was offered to her as a PhD (in Zoology), funded by the Falkland Island Government and in collaboration with SAERI, at the University of Aberdeen. Her PhD focuses on determining the population connectivity of D.gahi within Falkland Island Waters both geographically and temporally, using a combination of age analysis, Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA ICP-MS) and geometric morphometric analysis.

Jonathan Handley

PhD Student

Jon​athan completed his BSc in Zoology at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. Staying at Rhodes, he completed his honours year working on the endangered African penguin (Supervisors: Prof Christopher McQuaid, Rhodes, Dr Lorien Pichegru, Percy Fitzpatrick Institute University of Cape Town).

For his PhD thesis, which builds on his MSc thesis, Jonathan is investigating the foraging ecology of Gentoo penguins Pygoscelis papua and their relation to environmental variables at the Falkland Islands. This is a collaborative project amongst Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), Falklands Conservation and the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI). It is being supervised by Dr Pierre Pistorius (NMMU) and Dr Paul Brickle (SAERI).  Ecologists look to answer how animals relate to both their biotic and abiotic environment. In order to achieve this, there are now many tools at their disposal. In his project, Jonathan will address distribution through the use of Global Positioning System Loggers (GPS) and Time Depth Recorders (TDR’s), energetics with accelerometers, behaviour with animal-borne camera loggers fitted to the backs of Gentoo penguins and diet through the use of two dietary investigative techniques.

This project is supported by the John Cheeck Trust, Ruffords Small Grants Foundation and Falkland Islands Environmental Planning Department, as well as the scarce skills scholarship from the National Research Foundation and Post Graduate Research Scholarship from NMMU, South Africa. Generous access to field sites was granted by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Johnsons Harbour farm and North Arm farm. The project will be further supported by Dr Norman Ratcliffe of the British Antarctic Survey, Dr Maelle Connan and Dr Andrea Thiebault of NMMU, and the Falkland Islands Fisheries Department. The project will also be contributing to a species management plan for Gentoo penguins at the Falklands Islands. Not only will the technology used in this project lead to a significant increase in the understanding of Gentoo penguin foraging ecology, but it is also hoped that the medium of video will help promote awareness of this species, other marine species and the importance and fun of research in society today.

Katie Brigden

PhD Student

Katie studied for a BSc in Environmental Science at the University of Plymouth, completing her studies in 2006. After graduating she spent time working in the UK with the Devon Wildlife Trust, and in Tanzania working on a scientific research project investigating coral reefs, the intertidal habitat and local exploitation of intertidal species.

In 2009 Katie returned to Plymouth University to study for an MSc in Applied Marine Science, for which she was awarded funding from NERC and the Marine Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund. Her research project was a study into an inshore cuttlefish fishery in Devon, investigating spawning areas from the fishermen’s perspective and the potential for utilising artificial egg laying structures.

Following on from her MSc Katie worked as Marine Biologist for the British Antarctic Survey, based at the King Edward Point research station on South Georgia. In this role she carried out work on the three species which are the focus of South Georgia’s commercial fisheries – krill, mackerel icefish and toothfish. Of these three species, a large part of her work was investigating toothfish and it is the Patagonian toothfish which will be the focus of her PhD research.

Niall Fallon

PhD Student (right)

Niall is a member of Dr Paul Fernandes' Fisheries, Ecosystems and Advanced Survey Technologies (FEAST) research group at the University of Aberdeen. He is carrying out research on the Mackerel Icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari) at South Georgia under the supervision of Dr Fernandes and Dr Tara Marshall (also of the University of Aberdeen), in collaboration with Dr Martin Collins (Government of South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands) and Dr Paul Brickle (South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute). The project is funded by the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

He completed a BSc in Freshwater & Marine Biology in 2011 at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT, Ireland), and was named as a GMIT scholar and faculty student of the year. It was during his undergraduate studies that he first developed an interest in fisheries, and he completed a research project investigating age and growth of sprat (Sprattus sprattus) in Irish waters under the supervision of Dr Rick Officer and Dr Deirdre Brophy. He won a student bursary at the Irish Marine Institute in June 2011, and worked on the archival pelagic fisheries database and in the fisheries research laboratory under the supervision of Dr Maurice Clarke.

In 2012 he completed his MSc in Applied Marine & Fisheries Ecology at the University of Aberdeen, partially funded by the Scottish Fishermen's Trust. His research project was an iinvestigation of sprat recruitment in the North Sea. His PhD research will focus on the identification of uncertainties in the South Georgia icefish survey through the use of acoustic and video monitoring of trawl operations, extension of acoustic techniques used in the survey, as well as statistical, geostatistical and simulation modelling.

Tom Busbridge

PhD Student

Tom completed his BSc Marine Vertebrate Zoology at Bangor University in 2012. After graduating he worked at Anglesey Aquaculture Ltd. where he worked on a 3-month project looking into reducing the net waste production of a fish farm by utilizing fish waste as an on-site fertiliser for commercial halophytic plants. At the end of the summer of 2012 he returned to Bangor University for an MSc in Marine Environmental Protection.

Following his MSc he joined the Fisheries and Conservation Group at Bangor University as a Sea-going Scientist (2013). It was during this position that he developed a passion for fisheries science.

After having gained a wealth of experience during his 12 months working at Bangor University, he was successful in obtaining a position as a Scientific Fisheries Observer in the Falkland Islands. Towards the end of this contract a new opportunity was presented to Tom in the form of a PhD Internship, working with the Fisheries & Conservation Science Group in the Falkland Islands. Having formally been offered the position in early 2016 he is excited to be starting work on his project which will be focusing on the southern blue whiting (Micromesistius australis) fishery in the Falkland Islands.