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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Sophie Watts BSc Biology, 2016

Undergraduate student

Sophie Watts's Photo

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) in Fordingbridge offered me a 12 month placement in two departments carrying out desk-based computer work with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and out in the Avon Valley working with predators such as foxes and American mink.

I ended up spending most of the summer chest-deep in rivers looking for mink and watervole tracks, we monitored the river Avon all the way from Fordingbridge to Christchurch. The mammalian research at GWCT also included work with squirrels and hedgehogs.

In the second year, I chose to take a module in GIS thinking it would be useful for this placement and I’m planning to take the advanced module in my final year. It’s offered by Geography but is very valuable for biologists too. At the GWCT, I developed my skills in GIS by mapping for the Farmer Cluster initiative and also used Microsoft Access to input data from the Partridge Count Scheme.

I am hoping to develop my career further by completing a PhD in carnivore ecology.

I would recommend taking a year out to gain practical skills as these make you stand out when applying for jobs in the relevant field. There are placements available for people of all interests and I would strongly recommend doing one to any student.


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