Chris Reilly, postgraduate researcher, CDT SuMMeR: Cohort 1

Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Management of UK Marine Resources (CDT SuMMeR)

Postgraduate researcher: Chris Reilly

Project: CDTS108: Exploring geovisualisations as place-based planning tools for collaborative marine and coastal management 

Hosting Institute: Heriot-Watt University 
Associate Partners: NatureScot, Orkney Island Council and Aquatera
<p>Chris Reilly,&nbsp;

Postgraduate researcher, CDT Summer<br></p>


Graduating with a BSc in Marine and Freshwater Biology, I went on to become involved with an organization that facilitated overseas research experience for students, both as a project lead on their expeditions and as a fundraising coordinator based in their offices. While in this position I realised my interests were more involved in the research aspect prompting me to return to academia in 2020 to complete my MSc in International Marine Science through Heriot-Watt university.  

Research interests

Before returning to university to complete my MSc, the research I had been involved in prior had largely related to coral reef ecology, based in Honduras. In 2015 my undergraduate dissertation investigated fish biomass, diversity and abundance on two Honduran coral reefs using Stereo Video Surveys (SVS). This introduction to the project allowed me to return in subsequent years to lead and organize the data collection. Since coming back to university my interests have been refocused and I now enjoy working with GIS, utilizing this for spatial analysis and planning which was the focus of my MSc thesis.  

PhD Research: Exploring geovisualizations as place-based planning tools for collaborative marine and coastal management

Stakeholder engagement is a critical part of marine and coastal planning, yet planners often report challenges in facilitating and adequately consulting stakeholders in the process. Despite the huge role of the world’s oceans in each of our lives, there are many factors that come into play including ocean literacy that create a barrier in participation in such processes. The aim of this PhD is to develop realistic 3D geovisualizations using advanced mapping techniques that will encourage participation and help stakeholders understand the potential environmental, social and economic implications of various management strategies. 
When creating these geovisualizations it is paramount to produce the most useful models, as they take time and resources to complete. Based in Orkney, this coastal community provides the perfect setting to trial models during development with various stakeholder groups to create an understanding of what works best. The research will investigate themes including sense of place and realism when developing these models, which previous research has determined plays a critical role in their success. 
The project employs the support of a wide range of marine and coastal stakeholders, as well as academics with varying backgrounds. The interdisciplinary nature of this project aims to tackle these issues with broad thinking to better understand the factors that are preventing higher levels of engagement and to design the most effective models. 

Why I applied for the CDT SuMMeR

Applying for PhDs can be a pretty daunting undertaking and I experienced my fair share of doubts during the experience, but the commitment to EDI demonstrated by the CDT SuMMeR caught my attention. Understanding the issues we are faced with today, a project with an emphasis on producing inter and transdisciplinary researchers that have developed the skills to approach problems with a broad thinking mindset was something I knew would be pivotal in a future career in this field. Producing a diverse group of researchers with these skills is fundamental and something I wanted to be a part of