The 2020 Team
Helen Fergusson (21) – 3rd Year Marine and Freshwater Biology
Co-leader, Honours Researcher and Dive Officer
When I first joined the Exploration Society in first year, I never thought I’d be running my own expedition and doing my own Honours project! This year will be my third expedition, and I’m so excited to finally be conducting my own research and helping organise all the expedition details. Last year I had such a great time in Thailand with the 2019 team, and I’m really looking forward to going back to Phuket and seeing all the friends I made there again, as well as getting to introduce the new team to the amazing island… and introducing them to GTK burgers and papaya salad. After learning to dive in first year, I was able to finish my Divemaster in Phuket last summer and fell in love with the diving there. The reefs and ecosystems, especially in the National Park, are really beautiful. However, Phuket is a very popular tourist destination and lots of visitors take diving day trips there. Unfortunately, most of these visitors aren’t properly trained and can cause lots of damage to the reefs. Spending two months diving there last summer made me realise the destructive impact of mismanaged tourism on coral ecosystems, and it made me sad to see such a vibrant habitat being damaged. So in the summer, my project will investigate the relationship between diver density and coral health. Lauren and I will combine our data to try to prove there is a significant effect of diver impact on coral damage, and hopefully, our data will be used by the Department of Marine and Coastal Research in Thailand to implement some dive site management, to give the coral some time to recover! I can’t wait to get back to Phuket and get started on our projects this year. Hopefully, see you at our fundraising events this year!
Lauren Kennedy (20) – 3rd Year Marine and Freshwater Biology
Co-leader, Honours Researcher and Dive Officer
Hey! I’m Lauren and I’ll be co-leading the expedition this year alongside Helen, which I’m super excited about! I had a great time on the 2019 Egypt expedition where I acted as diving officer, social media coordinator and research assistant to the Hawkfish project. I learned so much and can’t wait to apply these skills to my own Honours project, where I will investigate coral health and diversity in relation to the intensity of scuba diving on various sites in Phuket. Intensive tourism and damage from irresponsible diving is such a huge issue in this region, so I feel very lucky to be involved in research which could be used in helping conserve these reefs. I’m really looking forward to the diving in Thailand (especially as I rely on cold Scottish waters to get my scuba fix between trips abroad!), working alongside a fab group of people, and to eating my body weight in Thai food!!!
Laura Alonso (21) – 4th Year Bsc Environmental Sciences and Sustainability
Over the past years as an environmental science student, I have learned many significant issues about the environment and I have reinforced my love for nature, and mostly my passion for ocean life. It has led me to focus all my efforts on educating myself about the different pathways for marine conservation.
I have had the amazing opportunity to gain fieldwork experience in one of the most diverse and stunning reefs in the world in Indonesia. That opportunity equipped me with valuable knowledge and skills on marine ecology and conservation practices, and it was my big jumpstart to all the objectives I have within my career and lifestyle, which revolve around the coral reef ecosystem.
I am currently undertaking desk-based research on coral reef conservation and adaptation to climate change for my final dissertation. I am assessing the different existing policy and management methods of conservation taking place in Indonesia, a study with which I aim to provide a baseline to assess any other reef conservation projects.
Therefore the Thailand expedition is a huge opportunity for me to observe how the existent theory applies to a real coral reef and to actively engage in the conservation process that involves marine research. I am very excited about this expedition since I will engage and get to aid in different research projects at the same time and I will also get to learn relevant knowledge from my teammates and the locals.
As scientific officer, I will be able to apply my academic knowledge and further my fieldwork skills while gaining more confidence in providing advice and support in the different projects. Specific goals I would like to gain
from this expedition are more confidence, efficient time management, involvement in the research fieldwork, strong connections with the locals and as many hours as possible diving and snorkeling in the water with the marine life! I am eternally grateful to be a part of this team, and I am
thrilled to harvest all the seeds I have planted during university, this is a very exciting start of conservation in action!
Moray Swanson (22) – 4th year Marine and Freshwater Biology
Social Media and Publicity
I've been wanting to do something like the Thailand expedition for years and didn't know opportunities like this were available at university until this year. I've been studying marine biology for four years now so I'm excited to finally put my knowledge to use and do a serious stint of fieldwork and data collection and analysis. I've often thought of Science communication as being a potential carrier so being in charge of social media and publicity will give me an opportunity to refine these skills. As part of this role, I will be writing blog posts and maintaining the website and social media accounts while also assisting with fieldwork throughout the expedition. Through the fieldwork, I'm excited to become a better diver after having only started diving this year and I'm incredibly excited to not only dive in a new area of the world but experience the culture and terrestrial life that Thailand has to offer.
Hannah Whyte (20) - 3rd Year Marine and Freshwater Biology
Hey i'm Hannah, i'm a 3rd year studying marine and freshwater biology and I'll be conducting the research for my 4th year honours project whilst on the trip. The project will be focused on fish behaviour and how that may change based on diver presence. I think we need to understand the effect humans may be having on ecosystems as we need to take accountability for that effect, whether it be positive or negative. I passionate about conservation and hope to work in conservation research after university. If we could help to get diver restrictions on over dived sites I think that would be a great help to some struggling marine ecosystems. I'm very excited to get more experience diving, and to plan out my own project. I'm currently trained to BSAC sports diver and aim to get my dive master on the trip
Andrew Morris (20) - 2nd year Aerospace Engineering
I’m excited to go to Thailand because I've never been to that part of the world before and I think that it’s important to experience new things and expand your horizons. This will also be my first expedition so I’m excited to learn about the process of conduction scientific experiments. I heard about it from my friends that had been on it and it seemed like a very enjoyable opportunity. One of my hobbies is cooking and I’m very excited to try the local cuisine in Thailand. I’m also excited to see all the marine life and animals that we will be encountering as Thailand has some of the best marine life in the world. I would also like to help try and conserve some of the animals I’m meeting before they are possibly gone forever.
Isabella Sumsion (20)- 3rd Year Marine and Freshwater Biology
Since I was very young, I have always been fascinated by animals and the natural world, so when applying for university, zoology felt like the obvious choice. After spending 12 weeks in the Caribbean on the University of Glasgow Trinidad Expedition at the end of first year, I knew that I wanted to do another expedition, and Thailand seemed like the ideal choice as I had never done a marine expedition before. On this expedition, I hope to learn how to scuba dive, take part in the underwater projects and also to be able to take pictures and do underwater photography. As publicist, I will be helping to run our social media accounts and keep our followers up to date on our fundraiser events and our progress on the expedition. As someone who is a little bit scared of the ocean, I can’t wait to challenge myself and literally dive into the deep end.
The 2019 Team
Melanie Long (28) – 3rd year Marine & Freshwater Biology
Co-Leader and Honours Researcher
My passion for the marine environment started in Phuket, Thailand. From 2010 – 2015 I lived in Phuket, where I became a PADI dive instructor and advocate for marine conservation. My time spent in Thailand inspired me to return to education and pursue my degree in Marine Biology. I could see the issues the marine environment was facing first hand and felt a responsibility to contribute to fixing these problems. This year will be my 2nd expedition after joining the Egypt expedition in 2017-2018 working as Dive Officer and on Publicity. I had such an amazing experience learning new research skills and making great new connections that I was keen to create a new expedition in the place where my journey began, Phuket. This year will be an exciting challenge as I undertake my own data collection for my humours project and take on the role of leading my first expedition. From my combined experiences in Thailand and Egypt I gained valuable skills in data collection, team work and logistical organisation. I am very excited to return to Thailand and carryout important research that will form the base of expeditions in future years to come.
Shion Onuki Reynell (21) – 3rd Year Marine and Freshwater Biology
Co-leader, Honours Researcher and Dive Officer
Marine Biology has always been one of my great interests. From a month spent in Belize in 2016 where I volunteered alongside the local fisheries department surveying key local species such as the Caribbean Spiny Lobster and Queen Conch, I have been motivated to involve myself further into the world of marine conservation. While in Belize, I discovered a love for coral and have since spent time on the Egypt expedition in 2018, where I was lucky enough to gain experience on various projects including fish behaviour and camera drops. From such a fantastic experience on the Egypt team, I am extremely excited to be able to co-lead the very first University of Glasgow expedition to Phuket Thailand. As a researcher, I will be hoping to collect data for my honours project on the coral biodiversity and abundance in the Andaman sea. I am also looking forward to the responsibilities of co-leading and being the dive officer for the 2019 team; roles which I hope will forward my skills and understanding in team work and dive leading and organisation. While in Thailand, my hope is to create long-lasting connections with the local communities alongside undertaking important research to promote the longevity of the expedition.
Fraser Carter (20) – 3rd year Marine and Freshwater Biology
Honours researcher and Publicity
My interest in marine biology sparked in 2015 while at the Monterey Bay aquarium, where I gained a respect for the oceans and the life within them. I feel honoured to get the opportunity to carry out data collection for my own honours in Phuket; as well as getting involved with the neighbourhood and conservation issues around the Andaman sea. I will be collecting research on fish populations in the area. As part of publicity I will be managing the social media pages to help reach potential fundraisers and keep others up to date with expedition activities. This is my first expedition and I am very excited to expand upon my data collection and public outreach skills for future expeditions or university projects. I am happy to be part of this debut expedition to Thailand and have high hopes for the team as a whole to establish many successful relationships between the community and the expedition society for future research trips.
Helen (20) - 2nd Year Marine and Freshwater Biology
After a great expedition in Egypt last summer, I’m really excited to be a part of the very first Thailand team! I can’t wait to work with some old team members and some new faces, and do scientific diving in a whole new environment. Having never visited Thailand, I’m looking forward to immersing myself in a new culture and representing Glasgow Uni on a brand new expedition, and making it the best one yet. Plus I can’t wait to try proper pad Thai. :))
Nicole Hamre (22) – 5th Year MSci Zoology
As a zoology student my passion for the environment, natural world and science encourages me to strive to make a lasting difference to conservation. In the past I have unfortunately neglected my love for the marine environment and have focused mainly on terrestrial experience. I’m a long-term nature connector volunteer with the RSPB and have previously worked with several other environmental charities. In 2017/18 I completed a masters work placement at ZEALANDIA ecosanctuary, Wellington where I completed my thesis investigating the impact of human visitation on New Zealand’s forest birds. While in New Zealand I gained my PADI open water qualification and fell in love with being immersed in the marine world. I then had the fantastic opportunity to dive on the Great Barrier Reef and was fascinated by the complexity and diversity of the ecosystem. This has made me determined to increase my skills and knowledge of the ocean so in the future I can work with a marine science-based conservation organization. In November 2018, I will be completing a course on tropical marine biology that includes a field trip to Egypt. In Egypt I will be learning about marine survey techniques, methodologies and analysis that will be very valuable in preparation for the Thailand expedition. As scientific officer I have valuable skills I learned from doing my masters that I will incorporate in to the preparation for Thailand and I am thoroughly excited about the projects as they are in accordance with my research interests; how anthropogenic effects influence nature, particularly ecotourism. This expedition is a great opportunity for me to develop my skills and knowledge of working in a marine environment and conducting marine research and I can’t wait to get started!
Emma Rozgonyi (21) - 2nd year Zoology
Treasurer and Fundraising
I can’t even describe how excited I am to be chosen for this expedition, getting an opportunity to travel to Thailand and help in marine life conservation. I have always been fascinated by the sea, I just felt it’s amazing, it’s a whole other world down there, that we know so little about. For this reason I’m immensely happy that I can help collect data from underwater, take part in public outreach and help making the first Thailand expedition an amazing one. I love being outside, and my most amazing experience in my life was when I could travel to Venezuela to climb the tepui mountains and see their incredible flora and fauna. I am the treasurer of our team and as such I have to make sure that the funds that we gain from fundraising and grants are used in the best way. I am really looking forward to the expedition and working within this team of great people.
Gregor McAdam (19)- 2nd Year Zoology
Social media and Publicity
Since, I was very young, I have always been fascinated by animals and the natural world, so when applying for university, zoology felt like the obvious choice. After spending 12 weeks in the Caribbean on the University of Glasgow Trinidad Expedition at the end of first year, I knew that I wanted to do another expedition, and Thailand seemed like the ideal choice as I had never done a marine expedition before. On this expedition, I hope to learn how to scuba dive, take part in the underwater projects and also to be able to take pictures and do underwater photography. As publicist, I will be helping to run our social media accounts and keep our followers up to date on our fundraiser events and our progress on the expedition. As someone who is a little bit scared of the ocean, I can’t wait to challenge myself and literally dive into the deep end.
Abby Donaldson (19)- 2nd Year Immunology Student
Fundraising Officer and Secretary
Biology has always been a passion of mine and our expedition will allow me to become more diverse in my learning of marine life and conservation. With this in mind, I hope to learn key skills in research which will be transferable to my chosen degree in the future. I am currently a non-diver but I am looking forward to getting my fins on and hopefully not to be too much like a fish out of water. This experience in such a beautiful country will allow me to gain invaluable experience from my more experienced team members, and establish connections within local communities. As secretary, I will be documenting our meetings whilst assisting with fundraising activities and ideas. I am excited for the challenges that lie ahead on what will be my first expedition, and furthering my knowledge in all areas of marine biology.