Peter Lawrence

Peter is a post-doctoral researcher on the EU-funded Ecostructure project.

Why did you choose to study / research marine science?

I always had a passion for exploring and experimenting. This all started when I was very young, building “sand dams” and seeing what sea creatures washed into my trap. This interest slowly developed into a love for the physical world, it’s complexity and why different shapes and textures are better suited to one species over another. I was never the best desk based scientist and wanted to use microscopes, range finders, quadrats, cameras and GPS. This desire to be tactile or outside led me to study Geology and computing at Manchester University which in turn resulted in my first job working in the dredging sector and environmental survey. It was here I found that specifically I loved the marine environment and the balance between salinity, sedimentation, colonisation and erosion. It was the fact that these process can be observed on a hour by hour basis and that only a few cm’s can make a huge difference to a sites ecology that intrigued me most.

I finished my Ph.D. in 2018 studying the roles of topography in the coastal diversity and began a new love affair with emerging technologies and science outreach in coastal science using LiDAR and photogrammetry to describe environments, understand the ecology and explain the importance of such physical diversity to land owners, politicians and the public.

What is your research project about?

I am currently working as a PostDoc on ECOSTRUCTURE (https://bit.ly/321mMfw). Here my roles is primarily focused characterising the features of artificial and natural rocky shores and modelling the relationships between the biota that lives in these two systems (work package 2). In recent months I have been working with work package 3 towards the deployment of “true topographic” concrete tiles derived from photogrammetry, 3D printing, concrete moulds and machine learning, covered by the BBC (https://bbc.in/2ZmUZby).

Interesting fact about yourself?

I am a surprisingly good darts player. I only wear “lucky” stripy socks for field work. A passionate supporter of palliative care and metal health support networks.

Heidi Meyer

Heidi is now a PhD student working on the EU-funded SponGES project at the University of Bergen, supervised by Hans Tore Rapp and Andy amongst others.

Why did you choose to study / research marine science?

I have always been fascinated by the ocean, especially invertebrates and life in the deep sea. As a kid, my dad and I would explore rock pools and go on fishing trips in the Chesapeake Bay. My favorite pastimes included either being in or near the ocean. When I first learned about the deep sea in High School, I immediately fell in love with the strange and unusual creatures living around hydrothermal vents and whale falls, and I just wanted to know more. However, due to a fear of chemistry and physics (now some of my favorite subjects), I avoided majoring in the sciences and went to school for Film at Montana State University, which definitely did not last very long. After a term, I switched to Undeclared, then German Education, then back to Undeclared. During my second year in Uni, I was visiting a friend in Oregon and fell in love with the state. On the drive back to Montana, I was listening to Jaws the audiobook and decided then and there that I was going to be a marine biologist. Within three months, I moved to Oregon and within a year, I began my education to become a marine biologist at Oregon State University, where my interests in benthic habitats grew. I completed my MSc in Marine Biology at Bangor University, and I am about to begin my PhD at Bergen University on the community and biodiversity of deep-sea sponge grounds in the Arctic.

What is your research project about?

I investigated the fine-scale spatial patterns of a deep-sea sponge ground on the summit of the Schultz Massif Seamount on the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge. For it, I analysed autonomous underwater imagery (AUV) of the sponge ground collected in 2016. I went through through hundreds of images taken by the AUV, and counted and documented the discernible megafauna present and their geolocation. I created a photomosaic from the images and generated a density hotspot map to visualize the spatial patterns of the primary megafauna inhabitants, which to no ones surprise, were mostly demosponge and glass sponge species (Geodia parva, Stelletta rhaphidiophora, Hexadella detritifera, Lissodendoryx complicata). I also looked at the fish species present and how they were using the sponge ground. I even found a cool little whale fall that the team went back to collect in 2017!

Interesting fact about yourself?

I am a mega nerd and love Harry Potter. Rumor has it, I even enjoy going to an event called The College of Wizardry in Poland to live as a nerdy witch for a weekend. Surely nobody is that weird…right?

Andy Davies

Welcome to our research group website! I am an ecologist with a background and active research career in the marine environment. I mostly work on reef formers, organisms that build structures that influence the surrounding environment.

Andy in recent years.

I first got into marine biology when I did my undergraduate degree in the Scarborough Campus of Hull University. Even from a young age, I had always been fascinated by our oceans, and it seemed like a logical choice (after a decision not to pursue medicine, genetics or chemistry). I started my PhD straight after my undergraduate, with only a short summer as a rescue diver/Dive Master.

Me and Dom at UG Graduation in 2001 when I thought it was funny to add captions to everything.

My PhD, somehow I managed to get one, was on interaction between the large brown alga Ascophyllum nodosum, the environment and limpets at Queen’s University Belfast with Profs. Christine Maggs and Mark Johnson (now elsewhere). Asco is still one of my most favourite things and my PhD was an absolutely incredible experience. I learned and toiled over manipulative experimentation, remote sensing, geospatial analysis and modelling. These skills allowed me to progress on to the next stage in my career.

Field work in Strangford, 2002.

I undertook several post-doctoral positions at the Scottish Association for Marine Science with Prof J. Murray Roberts (now elsewhere), focussing on deep-sea habitats, principally Lophelia pertusa. Something of a step-change in logistical difficulty when compared with Asco and limpets, I have now spent over a decade working in the deep ocean. The technical challenges and breathtaking species never cease to amaze.

A younger version of me in 2006 on the RV Pelagia, BIOSYS research cruise. Hours of hopper-camera.

Since those early days, I have progressed and now hold a Senior Lectureship in Marine Biology at Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences. I continue my research into both intertidal and deep-sea ecology, and have contributed to our knowledge of species distributions, technological/computational approaches, experimental ecology and so on.

With my most recently graduated PhD students (Martyn Kurr, Newcastle University and Laura Bush, Fugro) in 2016.

I am a profoundly deaf cochlear implant user, fully oral and also a BSL user. In recent years, I have acted as a deaf role model for the National Deaf Children’s Society, and volunteer on many events with the NDCS during the year. I am also on the Welsh NDCS Advisory Committee.