My local grammar school, a long time ago.
King’s College London and the University of Southampton.
I’ve done many jobs but my main chunks of employment have been as an underwater photographer, a dive instructor and more recently as a benthic ecologist.
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.
Favourite thing to do in my job: Being at sea.
I’m a marine biologist studying animals that live at hot springs on the deep-sea floor.
I go on research cruises with other scientists to find undiscovered hot springs (hydrothermal vents) in the deep sea and collect samples of the animals that we find living there. These animals come back to the lab with me where I figure out what species they are. Sometimes we find new species and I get to describe and name them. I also study the biology of the vent animals, such as how they reproduce and disperse, and find out where related species have been found. All of this helps us to understand their patterns of life in the oceans and the factors that shape those patterns.
You can read more about my work and what we do at sea here ttp://www.thesearethevoyages.net/ and watch a video about our last research cruise by clicking here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsPCGw6OHjQ.
Last year we discovered the world’s deepest hydrothermal vents at the Mid-Cayman Trough, Caribbean. Here’s a picture of one of the vents we found. It is nearly 5 km beneath the sea surface.
You can read more about hydrothermal vents here: http://www.noc.soton.ac.uk/chess/education/edu_htv.php.
My Typical Day
There are no ‘typical’ days.
It depends whether I’m at sea, which can mean working days or nights, or on land. On land I’m usually in the lab working on the animals we’ve collected at sea, reading papers and books, and writing up my work in the office that I share with five other PhD students. I also meet with my supervisor regularly and deal with emails at the beginning and end of each day. Sometimes I go and visit researchers working at different institutions to use a piece of equipment, learn new techniques and to talk about my work. Every day is different and I love that there is so much variety in what I do. Recently I had to dress up as a deep-sea starfish for an event at the Natural History Museum, London:
Here’s a picture of where I work: (Copyright: NOCS)
What I'd do with the prize money
Create kits for schools on deep-sea hydrothermal vents and the animals that live in these environments.
Hydrothermal vents are ‘natural laboratories’ for studies on dispersal, isolation, adaptation and evolution. So learning about vents and the animals that are found in these environments can help people to understand these concepts. Teaching aids, such as plastic vent animals, would be a great way to illustrate how animals have adapted to these environments. I would use some of the money to produce these kits and the rest of the money to distribute the kits to as many schools as possible.
Here’s a picture of vent shrimp. This species doesn’t have a pair of eyes…it has an “eyespot” on top of its body.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Independent, curious, adventurous.
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Descibed a new species of shrimp.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Nothing that counts.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I don’t have one.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Hmmm, have to be careful here. I’ll say diving with loads of sharks everyday when I lived in the Bahamas.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
I’d love to be able to have a dog (or dogs), I want to keep having the courage to live my dreams and one day I’d like to be somewhere I can call ‘home’.
Tell us a joke.
Oh no, I’m rubbish, I can’t remember jokes.