Harry Layfield - BSc (Hons) Environmental Science graduate

"Plymouth University offered a unique experience, I travelled to a variety of interesting places around the World. There are plenty of networking opportunities including career fairs and guest lectures. The outstanding natural beauty surrounding Plymouth provided a weekly retreat and most importantly, I made friends for life."

Tell us what you have been doing since completing your studies

Currently undergoing research in Sabah, Malaysia, at one of the World’s largest ecological experiments, the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) Project. My work involves developing a bar coding tool to detect tropical otters, using environmental DNA (eDNA).

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Working in the tropics is definitely the highlight of my career so far, waking up each day within 20 metres of primary forests is an extraordinary privilege.

What would you do differently since graduating?

I would have applied for summer internships or research assistant jobs. 

Imagine you were about to start university again - with the benefit of hindsight - what would you now tell yourself to have done differently?

I’d liked to have put more research into my dissertation topic, ideally something publishable. Additionally, I would have liked to have been an ongoing member of a sports society from the beginning of my first year at university.

What was your main reason for choosing to study your course at Plymouth? With hindsight how significant was this for you?

The two week field course in Malaysia was an attractive concept. In hindsight, this proved to be very significant, possibly playing a large role in my successful application at postgraduate level.

How did we support you in your studies? If you used any support services whilst at the university how did they enable you to get to where you are today

The library service supported my studies providing 24 hour access, previous papers and an extensive range of important literature relevant to my undergraduate research. The PALS service was reassuring as a first year undergraduate, being able to discuss issues and concerns with older students.

How did studying at Plymouth change your career aspirations and plans?

Before my undergraduate course I was unsure on career aspirations. My three years at Plymouth inspired me to pursue academia further; the challenging yet rewarding careers led by the environmental science faculty are something to be desired. 

What is your favourite memory of studying for your degree at Plymouth? 

Having some time to reflect on the course, the range of field trips with my peers was definitely a memory I’ll treasure, from the two weeks in Malaysia, to working on board the Falcon Spirit (marine wet laboratory), and the many explorations up Dartmoor and the surrounding coasts.

How well did Plymouth prepare you for the challenges that you have faced, or will face, in your career? 

The exposure to a wide range of interdisciplinary subjects throughout my undergraduate degree equipped me with a large ensemble of topics outside of my personal scientific area of interest. Opportunities to lead societies as part of a committee offered a glimpse into the professional world. 

Why would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University?

Plymouth University offered a unique experience, I travelled to a variety of interesting places around the world. There are plenty of networking opportunities including career fairs and guest lectures. The outstanding natural beauty surrounding Plymouth provided a weekly retreat and most importantly, I made friends for life.