Hello everyone and happy new year! Sci-Envy is back and ready to start 2024.
Read ahead to find out more about our new co-editors!
Hi! My name is Kate Dewally and I am a PhD student at UEA looking at new nature markets within the UK. This is broad interdisciplinary research spanning from the Environmental Land Management Schemes (Agri-environment scheme in England) and private nature markets (carbon credits, biodiversity, nutrients). The reason that I am passionate about this topic is from my background working and studying within agricultural circles and through interacting with farmers. This passion started whilst studying at Harper Adams University which allowed me to spend a lot of time with farmers and truly understand the barriers to participation in ‘environmental farming actions’. I am still in my first year so my research is still very broad, but I hope to combine qualitative interviews and geographical information systems (GIS) to explore how we can make these nature markets better for farmers and the environment. In my spare time I enjoy sports (rowing and swimming), playing the piano and hanging out with my dog!
I have decided to join SCI-ENVY to improve my science communication skills and also see what other PhD students are up to. I hope that my contribution with this blog can help prospective PhD students know what to expect when they get started and realise that a PhD is not as scary as it originally seems!
I am a student at the University of Plymouth, though you’d never know it since I’m never there! Instead, I spend all of my time at Rothamsted Research Institute in Hertfordshire, where I grow plants and study how they work. My project focuses on developing Virus-mediated Reverse genetic techniques for globally important weed species. This means I am developing techniques used to validate the function of genes in new weed species and will hopefully end up using these techniques to study genes that are suspected to be involved in herbicide resistance traits. I love my project because, not only does it let me spend a lot of time in the lab, learning new skills but it gives me an opportunity to study a problem which contributes to food security issues which is a problem that I care a lot about.
One of my biggest priorities when I started my PhD was to participate in as many outreach opportunities as I could. I really love communicating science to members of the public and members of other scientific communities and I have already participated in a few outreach opportunities in the first year of my project. Back in University I used to write blog articles quite frequently on topics that I thought were interesting, so when I heard there was a spot open to be an editor for SCI-ENVY I was really excited to take part. Personally, I love it when you find a person who can just talk about one thing for hours, hopefully there’s a few people out there (me included) who feel like they can use this platform as a way to communicate about things that they really care about.
My PhD looks at the occurrence, fate, and transport of microplastics within coastal vegetated systems. I am currently based at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory with the Microplastics Team, but I spent the first 8 months of my PhD at the University of East Anglia. Coastal areas are susceptible to high levels of plastic pollution because they’re often surrounded by population centres. They’re also home to many key habitats, like seagrasses, saltmarshes, and mangroves. These habitats are not just beautiful areas to visit. They provide coastal protection, promote biodiversity, and store carbon – benefitting us and the surrounding environment. My research looks at how these systems trap and transport microplastics and explores their capacity to function as a nature-based solution for microplastics pollution.
I discovered my passion for researching human impacts on the environment, particularly microplastics, while completing my undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto. Microplastics have been found everywhere researchers have looked for them – from the depths of the sea to the top of Mount Everest – and thus showcase the magnitude of our impact on the world. Outside of my laboratory and fieldwork, I advocate for accessible scientific communication for the benefit of my peers, the public, and policymakers. I am excited to begin this year as part of the SCI-ENVY team and share topics on science and PhD life from the ARIES community!