Photo: Cameron Hird

International Success for Six Early Career Researchers

Six talented early career researchers have received international recognition for their research efforts. Krista Sherman, Anna Campbell, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Cosima Porteus, Lauren Laing and Josie Paris all received individual awards for their environmental research efforts at conferences and within international organisations and funding bodies throughout the last year.

In April 2016, Krista Sherman, a PhD researcher with Prof. Charles Tyler studying Nassau grouper populations in the Bahamas was awarded the Bahamas 2016 Marine Scientist Award. This award was presented to Sherman by the Bahamas Government in recognition of her outstanding achievements in marine science.

Anna Campbell, a PhD student with Dr Ceri Lewis, was awarded the prize of Best Student Poster at the ‘Oceans in a High CO2 World’ conference, held in Tasmania, Australia from the 3rd-6th May 2016. Anna’s poster, entitled ‘Ocean acidification changes the male fitness landscape’ caught the eye of the judges at the top international ocean acidification conference, held every four years, attracting leading researchers in the field.

Jennifer Fitzgerald, a PhD researcher with Dr Eduarda Santos won the award for Best Presentation at the 12th International Conference on the Biology of Fish, held in Texas, USA from the 12th-16th June 2016. This conference brings together over 400 leading fish physiologists every two years to share their research, with Fitzgerald presenting her research titled: “Hypoxia modulates the responses to chemical exposures in the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus)”.

Dr Cosima Porteus, a postdoctoral research fellow who works on the effects of environmental change on fish was awarded the Society for Experimental Biology Young Scientist Award for Animal Biology at the SEB 2016 Annual Meeting in Brighton on 4th-7th July. Dr Porteus went through a rigorous selection process prior to being chosen as one of three finalists to present at the event on the 4th of July.

Success hasn’t just been measured in the form of awards this year. PhD researchers Lauren Laing and Josie Paris both received Fisheries Society of the British Isles (FSBI) small research grants after recent funding applications, allowing them to further their environmental research. FSBI small research grants comprise awards of up to £5000 used to conduct research that falls within the FSBI societal objectives. Laing’s project, entitled ‘The role of DNA methylation in the differential susceptibility to copper in three-spined stickleback populations exposed during embryonic life’ will investigate whether exposure to copper at early life stages impacts genetic mechanisms which have the potential to alter susceptibility to contaminants later in life or in subsequent generations. Paris’s project will investigate whether differences in gene expression occur between metal-tolerant trout and those found in ‘clean’ rivers. This is the latest of a number of grants that Paris has been awarded throughout her PhD. These have allowed her to develop her research, run European sequencing workshops and work with leading bioinformatics researchers such as Dr Julian Catchen. Paris’s research efforts were recognised further in December 2015 when she received nomination from the Linnean Society of London for the Bicentenary Medal, an award given in recognition of outstanding contributions by a biologist under the age of 40 years.

Director of Postgraduate Research, Dr Eduarda Santos said of these achievements: ‘These prizes reflect the exceptional contribution that these early career researchers are making to the scientific community, and resulted not just from their outstanding talent, but also from their commitment and determination to succeed despite all the challenges of doing complex experiments. As a department, we are extremely proud of their achievements and thank them for their hard work and contributions towards creating an inspirational research environment in Exeter, generating outstanding science with the potential to positively impact the protection of the aquatic environment.’

The recognition of these researchers highlights the level of world-class research that is being conducted within Biosciences at the University of Exeter and demonstrates the University’s ongoing commitment and progress as part of the Athena Swan initiative, promoting gender equality in the workplace.

Written by Cameron Hird, Biosciences Pressgang.

Date: 29 September 2016

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