Award Winning Marine Research at Exeter

Despite the challenges of COVID19, our world leading research committed to understanding all aspects of the marine environment has continued, much of which continues to be shared with policy makers around the world. We have also been delighted to see many of our students and researchers being recognised for their efforts and outstanding contributions to the field.

Penryn student receives prestigious award for her work on tackling plastic waste:

A University of Exeter postgraduate student has been honoured with The Diana Award - the highest accolade a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts.Emily Stevenson, who is studying a Masters in conservation science and policy at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus, has received The Diana Award for the social action she has been doing to tackle plastic waste.

Preserving the natural environment has been a life-long goal for Emily, aged 23. Being lucky enough to grow up on the beach in Cornwall, Emily developed a connection to nature at an early age, and always felt a desire to protect what she loves.

For over half her life she has been picking up plastics from beaches and now motivates, inspires and supports others to take care of their marine environment through the Non-Governmental Organisation she co-founded - Beach Guardian. Emily said: "I am so grateful for this unbelievable recognition and cannot thank everyone enough that has supported and believed in me. As a conservationist, it’s sometimes hard to know whether you are making a difference or your message is being heard. This award is just phenomenal as it shows me that I am being heard and really empowers me to keep going".

A University of Exeter researcher has been chosen for the Forbes “30 Under 30” list of innovators in science and heath across Europe:

Dr Emily Duncan, 26, studies the impact of plastic pollution on marine life including sea turtles. Described on the Forbes website as “a sea turtle's hero”, her work has taken her all over the globe, from Cyprus to the Ganges River to Australia. She is now conducting research on young turtles through a grant from National Geographic, as well as her post-doctoral projects looking at plastic pollution and its wider impacts in the Mediterranean and the Ganges River system.

"I am extremely chuffed about this,” said Dr Duncan, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall. “I am very grateful – now more than ever – to have had the opportunity to work with amazing people all over the world on the issue of plastic pollution." Dr Duncan’s current projects include INDICIT II, which is developing standardised tools for monitoring impacts on marine fauna as bio-indicators using loggerhead turtles in the Mediterranean.

World-leading plastics research team collect Queen’s Anniversary prize: Prince Charles has today awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education to a team at the University of Exeter for the pivotal role it has played to expose the devastating effect that plastics pollution has on the health of humans and wildlife. This prestigious national honour is approved by The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister following recommendations by the Awards Council of the Royal Anniversary Trust, which administers the Prizes scheme. Exeter’s pioneering research has been led by Professors Tamara Galloway, Brendan Godley, Lorna Harries and Dr Ceri Lewis. The award was collected by Professor Tamara Galloway and University Provost Janice Kay at the beginning of 2020. It was presented for a series of in-depth studies into the global impact plastics of micro and nano-plastics – small plastic particles less than 1mm in length -which are increasingly contaminating the natural environment.

Crucially, this can have implications for the rest of the food chain, including humans. Significantly, the research project has played a leading role in shaping the worldwide blueprint for not only reducing the use of microbeads in cosmetics, but also directing a clarion call to action to tackle the modern “throwaway culture” which has led to vast floating islands of plastic waste plaguing many of the world’s oceans.

Professor Tamara Galloway, one of the world’s leading experts in microplastics research said: “It feels wonderful to be a part of this prestigious award. I’m passionate about protecting the environment and am constantly amazed at the positive global reception our research has had. I’m so proud of all the researchers in my team whose hard work has been recognised and grateful to our many, many collaborators, locally and from all around the world, for their fantastic support." Professor Lorna Harries, an expert in the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals on gene expression and regulation said “I am delighted that our work in this area has been recognised! It is so good to see that by doing what we love, we may be able to make a contribution to the health of our population and our planet.”

For more stories, click here.