Research student, School of Biosciences
Globally, our oceans are increasingly impacted by human activities. With the expansion of industries, upsurge in urbanisation and increased exploitation of ocean resources, characterising the extent of human-derived impacts on marine environments is of great importance economically, environmentally and for conservation management purposes. In particular, anthropogenic sourced pollution (e.g., chemical, new emerging pollutants, heavy metal pollution) in nearshore marine environments presents a huge concern for ecosystem structure, function, and health. Yet, for many of these pollutants the wider ecotoxicological effects on the marine environment remain poorly understood and few studies have investigated the cumulative toxic effects of pollutants in mid-high marine trophic predators like sharks and their trophic networks. As highly connected organisms, helminth parasites often utilise sharks for their paratenic/definitive life stages. It has been suggested in some studies that helminth communities can aid in bioremediation processes acting as pollutant sinks and/or providing information about toxicity levels in the external environment. My research looks to build on this to further assess the potential of both ecto & endoparasitic communities in sharks as biomonitoring tools for pollutants in UK waters.
After completing my undergraduate degree in Bioveterinary Science at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London in 2015, I worked as an Intern Research Assistant and Outreach Coordinator at an elasmobranch field research station in the Bahamas (2017 – 2021), where I assisted with a variety of projects looking to understand the ecology, reproduction, behaviour & spatiotemporal movements of shark populations in the region. In 2021, I returned to university academia to undertake an MRes project at Cardiff University, looking to understand the parasitic infracommunties of Scyliorhinus canicula and assess their potential as bioindicators of pollutants. Upon completion of my MRes, I worked as a post-graduate research assistant based at the Institute of Zoology, ZSL for Project SIARC (Sharks Inspiring Action and Research with Communities) in Wales. Where my role looked to assist with data analysis work packages using fisheries data collected from current, historical, and fisher-integrated research efforts to address critical knowledge gaps in the ecology of a Critically Endangered angelshark (Squatina squatina). My main research interests look to understand ecotoxicology of pollutants in elasmobranchs, their parasites and surrounding marine environments.
Sentinel Sharks: Tracking anthropogenic contamination in marine ecosystems.
My project seeks to understand the current level of emerging pollutant & legacy metal contamination in trophic predators in UK waters and to assess the potential for establishing shark parasites as bioindicators for heavy metal contamination across the UK.. As an interdisciplinary project this work involves collaborating with a number of different institutions including my partner organisation Cefas. I hope to use this research to aid in assessing the potential for a new biomonitoring system and to address current pitfalls with current pollution monitoring strategies.
NERC ECORISC CDT