“Bryozoans aren’t a particularly well known group of animals, but it’s because of this specialisation that I’ve had some amazing opportunities since graduating from Heriot-Watt”, says Sally Rouse, who in 2010 graduated with an MSc in Marine Resource Development and Protection.
After gaining funding from a NERC Studentship, she came to Heriot-Watt because it was one of very few courses in the UK which do such a taught course in Marine Biology. “I stayed in Lord Thomson Halls, and I had a great time at Heriot-Watt. It offered good, practical training with excellent lecturers. I learned a lot.”
Sally’s thesis was conducted at the Natural History Museum in London. From this, she was awarded a prestigious Rubenstein Fellowship by the Encyclopaedia of Life. This unique opportunity, given to only a handful of people every year, was part of a large project to catalogue and classify every known species on the planet. “Sometimes, specialising in something is the best thing to do, and my knowledge of Bryozoans was what got me this fellowship.”
This was followed by an internship at the Zoological Society of London, working on the Ganges River Dolphin Project, funded by the UK government’s Darwin Initiative. After the internship finished, Sally began a PhD, which she is 18 months into.
“I’m based at SAMS, but still have a connection to Heriot-Watt through one of my supervisors, Dr Jo Porter from the School of Life Sciences. My PhD is titled “Benthic Productivity on Artificial Structures” and is so far going brilliantly!”
Having landed such great opportunities so far in her career, what advice does Sally have for current or future graduates to emulate her?
“Apply for lots of things. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – there’s a lot of competition out there, so cover all your bases. I also undertook unpaid internships, which were valuable in creating a network and meeting people who could help my career. It also let me have practical experience, which was valuable for my CV.”
And for the future…?