University does open doors. Its not by any means a necessity, but for those who have specific career goals or even are unsure of exactly which passion to follow, it can be incredibly eye opening. It certainly was for me anyway.
I’ve wanted a career in marine biology since I was around thirteen years old. My love for nature, particularly marine environments, extends far before that to when I was a wee stumbling Homo sapien. However, there was one specific moment in secondary school where the idea of a “career” in marine science became a realisation. In class we were using some kind of computer program that would indicate appropriate careers for us to think about. Using this program we had to answer a series of personal questions and with some sort of magic it would spit out three potential areas of interest. At the time the class was one of those waste lessons where all you learnt was how little you could do in the space of an hour or who was the best at pissing off the teacher. After some *beep boop beeping* my options were revealed. Immediately “marine biologist” caught my eye and before I knew it I was actually engaged with the lesson, looking up on the Google everything a marine biologist does. BAM! that was it. It incorporated everything I loved; nature, travel, adventure, the unknown, just absolutely everything!
So there it was, I now had a drive in education to get somewhere. I didn’t do brilliantly, nothing more than average to be fair, but I was always motivated to somehow get to where I wanted to be. Conservation Biology and Ecology at Exeter University Cornwall Campus was the one for me. Encompassing both marine and terrestrial biology it started broad but with the easy ability to knuckle down into the areas you truly loved. The best part of University education is that you are surrounded by like minded people of all ages and abilities, therefore you are exposed to a whole variety of areas to explore and engage with. The amount of opportunities available were unreal, many of which I’ll post about on a later date, but it were these opportunities and the people around me that helped chisel out my interest in research.
Scientific research, to me anyway, had an element of exploration. Asking questions about things that people didn’t know, going out to find the answers and reporting back just seemed so exciting! There were a few particular lecturers who I found really inspiring as an undergraduate. I won’t mention names but their work included Basking shark movements YES! Turtle population dynamics YES PLEASE! and bird flight physiology over the Himalayas YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU! I just had to get a taste of real scientific research, even if it was a one off attempt in my life, I really had to experience that path.
Pestering people with questions and genuinely being an interested student is my best advice to anyone who feels the same. While on a field trip to the Bahamas I remember constantly talking to my two lecturers about further education through a post-graduate program focusing on research. I’m sure it must have been irritating as they can’t simply say “Yeah sure why not, here is a position I made earlier” but I feel as if persistence does indeed pay off at times, as shortly after the trip a Masters by Research opportunity presented itself. I’m incredibly lucky and thankful for everything that has happened and to have had such an amazing experience (I will explain the research in the next update).
Research isn’t just a conveniently pleasant job that I desire, I genuinely believe in its purpose to greatly expand our knowledge of everything around us. In times of such environmental importance, research offers a platform for efficient frameworks to be developed, which if used correctly not only benefit a specific species but a whole network (within which WE also have a place). I’m just at the beginning of this experience but it is one that I hope is never ending.