Jennifer Scott, postgraduate researcher, CDT SuMMeR: Cohort 1

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

<p>Jennifer Scott, CDT Summer<br></p>

Background

Previously an Oceanographer at Marine Scotland working on the COMPASS project, with a background in oceanography and paleoclimate reconstruction. Undertaken a Masters by Research at the University of Edinburgh reconstructing sea surface temperatures in the Western Arabian Sea over the last glacial-interglacial cycle to investigate controls on monsoon dynamics. Experience as a Paleoceanographic Technician at Heriot Watt University investigating ocean oxygenation during past warm periods. BSc in Environmental Geoscience from University of Edinburgh.

Research interests/experience

My research interests cover all things marine, as demonstrated by my research experience. In my masters and technician role I investigated the ocean thousands of years in the past, looking to better understand controls of ocean temperature and oxygenation. In my role as an Oceanographer I investigated oceanographic conditions and variability in a Scottish loch based on sustained observations at different spatial and temporal scales. During this time I became interested in marine plastic pollution, one of the greatest threats our ocean is currently facing. My PhD will focus on microplastics, looking at bacteria which can degrade them.

PhD Research: Understanding the biodegradation and residence time of microplastics in the ocean

We are facing one of the most important marine pollution crises on our planet, threatening the biodiversity of marine ecosystems, coastal tourism, fisheries and aquaculture. Plastics pollution is ubiquitous and persistent in the marine environment, and dominated by the smaller abundant plastic particles (<5 mm) defined as microplastics, for which their fate and impacts we still don’t fully understand. My PhD research aims to identify the biological and geochemical/physical processes involved in the fate of plastics (of different polymer types) under different environmental settings. It will utilise sophisticated techniques in microbial ecology, such as DNA-based stable-isotope probing (DNA-SIP), to trace the fate of isotopically labelled plastics through biological systems; a focus will be on the microorganisms participating in this process as they are often protagonists in the fate of these (and other organic pollutants) in the environment. A major benefit in applying SIP-based methods is in the ability to link phylogenetic identity with a specific metabolic function, in which respect the focus will be on the biodegradation of plastics. The research will focus on coastal and offshore regions of the north Atlantic to investigate the biodegradation of microplastics using lab-based and in-situ (in the field) experiments.

Why I applied for the CDT SuMMeR

I applied for the CDT SuMMeR as the transdisciplinary approach with which the PhD projects were designed allows the problem to be considered from many different approaches and acknowledges that marine resource issues don’t fit neatly into one discipline. This approach is key to developing effective solutions and management and I am really excited by this approach. I wanted to become part of the next generation of innovative, transdisciplinary researchers, solution providers and practitioners CDT SuMMeR will develop, and I am excited to see where this training can take me in my PhD and beyond.