Monday 19 August 2013

The life and times of lobster girl...

Okay so I know I've been threatening to start up a blog for quite a while, but this time I really mean it! What is this change of heart in aid of, I hear you ask? Well, I only went and got a travel scholarship didn't I... Clever girl. But first, for those who don't know me... let me introduce myself.

To my friends back home it may seem that I have been partying in Swansea for the last *ahem*.. 6 years, but in amongst all that dancing, beach BBQ-ing and surfing, I managed to obtain a Biology degree (hurrah!) and am now well on my way to getting a PhD and becoming a doctor (Oooh!).

Sampling on a commercial fishing vessel near Devon.
On the other side of things, there are my friends in Swansea, who simply know me as 'Lobster girl.. that girl that does lobster stuff... the one with the lobster tattoo!' No, I am not some sort of magical superhero with giant claws for weapons, but a lobster pathologist looking into all things fatal and disastrous to our beloved European lobster (Homarus gammarus, for you science geeks out there). I am passionate about disease susceptibility, with special reference to impacts of invasive species (yes, I'm talking about you, you pesky Americans). I am also a huge supporter of sustainable fisheries, rather than banning fishing altogether (sorry Hugh)... and am interested in the implementation of MPA's, especially how disease susceptibility might change within conservation areas.

How did I get into this line of work? Well, it's all down to my lovely supervisor, Prof. Andrew Rowley (who never updates his website, it seems), who offered me a lobster project for my dissertation as I neared the end of my bachelors degree, simply for being in his office at the right time, looking at a 'new' parasite that fishermen had been finding on lobsters around a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ). Naturally, the two modules I had decided against taking that year were Parasitology and Cell and Immunobiology, so as you can see, it started off well. Not.

Lobster research in the UK is limited, the real hub of activity is based at IMR, Norway, whereas American lobster research is a vast area, spanning all over the US and Canada. As I started my PhD my first 'project' was a collaboration with the New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts, where they are nearly as lobster mad as me. It was a match made in heaven.

Some of my baby research subjects. 
At the moment I am back to looking at parasites (should have taken that module...), which is really interesting, and I will keep you updated, but I am also starting up a new collaboration with the AVC Lobster Science Centre, in Canada, this coming fall.

I have been lucky enough to get two travel scholarships, one from the Society of Biology  and one from Climate Change Consortium for Wales (C3W),  and so I commence my travels in September. On top of the trip to Canada I am heading down to NEAQ to tie up some loose ends, and having a cheeky couple of nights in NYC before heading to Virginia to visit my amazing friends Tessa and Rebecca, who interned this summer at our department in Swansea.

I do hope to keep everyone updated with my antics (and frantic preparation, packing and tie-ing up of loose ends here at Swansea), but guaranteed I will forget and you will be reading my next blog at some point in 2015.

In the meantime, you can tweet me @_CharlotteEve_, or check me out on LinkedIn.

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