Growing up in landlocked Birmingham, becoming a marine biologist doesn’t seem the most usual of career paths for me to have taken. Spending time on the Cornish coast in my summer holidays showed me the beauty of the marine landscape with rockpools capturing my imagination.
At the age of 16 I was nicknamed Cod by a boy in my music class for my love of water (and the potential obsession of teenage boys with the Call of Duty video game), and at the age of 17 I was still rockpooling - perhaps my fate set in Marine Biology.
I studied my undergrad in Marine Biology and Oceanography at University of Plymouth and was first exposed to microbiology there where in a series of lab practicals I let my petri-dishes of agar become continually more and more contaminated. Fast forward nearly 10 years on, I am now studying for my Doctorate in Marine Microbiology, with a specialism in marine fungi and whether they play a role in carbon cycling in our oceans.
When I’m not in my office deciphering the As, Ts, Cs and Gs of the sequencing data I’m trawling through or pipetting colourless liquids in the lab, most days I’m out in the ocean as a keen sea swimmer. In 2021 I set my self the challenge to swim everyday in the ocean, sometimes that was impossible when the sea state was rough or when I was in Birmingham - but I made it work and expanded it to open water. Just check out what happened when I had COVID and outside wasn’t an option here.
I am working towards my PhD in marine microbiology. At the moment I’m deciphering the role of the lesser known marine fungi in the oceans using a combination of sea-going and lab based techniques. My work will hopefully be influential on closing the knowledge gap on which fungi are present in the oceans, how they interact with organic matter and what this means for the marine carbon cycle which is integral role of the ocean.
I am passionate about communicating the importance of some of the tiniest things in our oceans. Recognising the attention that charismatic megafauna (i.e. whales and dolphins) get in comparison to marine microbes - I aim to harness my enthusiasm to encourage others to get on board with marine microbes (the good, the bad and the ugly) and highlight just why we should care about them. I am locally renowned for my talks on Marine Snow in Plymouth, UK - captivating the curiosity of school children, local rockpoolers and even the strangers I meet at my local swim spots. I’ve been lucky enough to take part in several South-West based projects with international reach including the Tidelines project, the Young Marine Biologist Summit and the NMA Lates.
On my journey through my scientific career and even before then, I have has always enjoyed writing. Be that communicating to the academic sphere about my latest research on aquatic fungi or writing online articles highlighting to us all we should care about microplastics and their impact on the oceans and why we need to become more inclusive as a scientific field. I am keen to expose people the wonders of the ocean unseen by the naked eye.