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Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Eleanor Haigh MSci Oceanography with Study Abroad 2019

Eleanor Haigh's Photo

I spent an incredible year abroad in Australia as part of my degree, first six months in Perth at the University of Western Australia and then six months at the University of Adelaide where I worked on a research project on the genetics of mangroves alongside my normal studies.

What were the highlights of your degree?

I spent an incredible year abroad in Australia as part of my degree, first six months in Perth at the University of Western Australia and then six months at the University of Adelaide where I worked on a research project on the genetics of mangroves alongside my normal studies.

In between these semesters, I secured a competitive two month paid internship at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies in Tasmania, which I’m sure the University of Southampton’s reputation for marine science helped me get.  It was a really useful experience as I was able to practice using the scientific software Matlab to work on my own project on nutrients - specifically how they influence biological carbon uptake in the Southern Ocean.

After returning from Australia, I was back on a plane within months. I was lucky enough to land a place on a two week research cruise in the Southern Pacific on board the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) ship RRS Discovery, sailing from Punta Arenas in Chile. I saw humpback whales and sea-lions making their way through the channel at the very tip of the Andes, and was able to find my sea legs in the notoriously stormy Southern Ocean. It was incredible to see science in action, in such a harsh and remote environment.

While the main aim of the voyage was to replace an oceanographic research buoy 600 miles off the coast of South America, there was also time for me to carry out small-scale experiments on phytoplankton physiology. This was a fantastic opportunity to do my own research and I am now writing up the results for my Masters dissertation.

Eleanor Haigh

What’s it like to study at the University of Southampton?

My first two years at the National Oceanography Centre taught me everything I needed to know to make the most of both my time in Australia and on the research cruise. We learned everything, from academic knowledge, to the practical scientific skills I would put into use during fieldwork.

This hands-on experience will no doubt make any graduate stand out, whether they are looking for PhD opportunities or employment in industry. I also found it to be the most interesting and enjoyable part of my degree.

The Waterfront Campus is an incredible place to work, with great resources and plenty of enthusiastic students – it was the obvious choice for me when I was looking for a university place. I knew I wanted to take a science degree but didn’t want to tie myself into a conventional course in something like physics or biology. Having completed a scuba diving course, I became interested in coastal areas, read around the subject, and then found out about Oceanography. It’s already a broad and varied subject, but I also took optional modules in environmental science and chemistry.

The University of Southampton certainly met my expectations. Outside lectures, I continued with scuba diving and also played basketball in my first year, now I enjoy going for runs on Southampton Common.

What are you planning to do next?

While I’m still interested in carrying on my research into nutrients in the ocean, I’m planning to get a job in industry or consultancy after I graduate and then investigate applying for a PhD either in the UK or overseas.

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