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Miss Helen Currie BSc (Hons), MSc, MRSB, AFHEA

Postgraduate research student

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Helen Currie is a postgraduate research student at the International Centre for Ecohydraulics Research (ICER), within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton.

My PhD project uses an interdisciplinary approach to investigate group responses of fish to acoustic stimuli. If we can understand this, we can apply such knowledge to technologies that use sound to keep fish safe from deadly infrastructure – such as hydropower facilities – or control range expansion of invasive species.

Helen graduated from Newcastle University with a joint honours Bachelor's degree in Biology and Psychology. She progressed her studies at the Queen's University of Belfast, where she obtained her Master's degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare. Her Master's dissertation focused on the effects of anthropogenic noise on avian bioacoustics. Prior to beginning research at Southampton, Helen returned to Newcastle University, interning as a research assistant at the Centre for Behaviour and Evolution within the Institute of Neuroscience. Here she worked on a number of projects focusing on predator-prey interactions, and animal welfare.

Currently, she is working on her PhD at the University of Southampton as part of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Infrastructure Systems. Her research uses high-resolution video tracking, in combination with fine-scale environmental mapping, to investigate the effect of anthropogenic noise on the collective behaviour of cyprinid fishes. Results are applicable to conservation efforts to reduce the impacts of anthropogenic noise, and the development of acoustic deterrent systems. Such technologies could assist in the control of invasive species expansion, or reduce screening impingement and fish mortalities at dangerous sites (e.g. hydropower dams).

During Helen's PhD, she secured a place on the prestigious United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI, formerly RCUK) policy internship scheme, allowing her to undertake a three-month Science Policy placement at the Royal Society of Biology's (RSB) London headquarters. Here, she was entrusted with responding to DEFRA's consultation on Post-EU Environmental Principles. A key output of the report was the RSB's invitation to follow-up governmental talks.

In addition to her primary research, Helen has a passion for science communication and presenting her research, winning a Research Communicator Award at the 2017 University of Southampton Roadshow Awards. More recently she was featured in Nature Careers, where she discussed showcasing her research at several UK festivals.

Helen sits as the joint Postgraduate Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (PGR-EDI) representative, alongside Salma Sabour, in the School of Engineering, a role which continues to widen her understanding of sound ethics and cultural values. She has been actively involved in the Athena Swan self-assessment team, and the development, launch, and analyses of a faculty wide PGR-EDI student satisfaction survey. Helen and Salma also secured a 2020 Festival of Doctoral Research Activities Fund grant to run a University wide series of virtual and face-to-face events promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in postgraduate research.


Research interests

Helen is broadly interested in animal behaviour; bioacoustics; aquatic ecology; fisheries management; invasive species; and science policy.

She is fascinated by how environmental and genetic effects influence differences in behaviour, and the wider ecological impacts of anthropogenic stressors, such as noise pollution.

Throughout Helen's PhD, further interest has led to her involvement in a number of additional interdisciplinary projects, including:

  • understanding the mechanical response of nematode infected European eel swimbladder
  • the impacts of rapid decompression, or "barotrauma", on neotropical ichthyofauna


PhD title

"Group behavioural responses of cyprinid fishes to artificial acoustic stimuli in riverine environments: Implications for fisheries management"

PhD supervision

Professor Paul Kemp; Professor Paul White; Professor Timothy Leighton


Natural Environment Research Council; Fishtek Consulting Ltd


  • International Centre for Ecohydraulics Research (ICER) whiteboard group coordinator (2016-2018)
  • Joint Postgraduate Equality, Diversity and Inclusion representative for the School of Engineering
  • PGR member of the School of Engineering Athena SWAN self-assessment team (SAT)
ENVS1006 2016-2018 Environmental Science Research and Applications Demonstrator, report marking and seminar lead
ENVS1007 2016-2017 Environmental Field Techniques and Applications Demonstrator, group project supervisor and guest lecturer
BIOL2001 2016-2018 Evolution Demonstrator and report marking
BIOL2039 2016-2019 Animal Behaviour Demonstrator and report marking
ENVS2007/ ENVS6006 2018-2020 Environmental Pollution Demonstrator
ENVS3013/ ENVS6030 2018-2019 Environmental Law and Management Guest Lecturer
ENVS6034 2016-2017 Advanced Quantitative Methods Demonstrator
FEEG6018 2016-2018 Professional and Research Skills Seminar lead
Miss Helen Currie
Engineering, University of Southampton, Southampton Boldrewood Innovation Campus, Burgess Road, Southampton, SO16 7QF

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