Laura Viviana Pirateque - MSc Conservation and Biodiversity

Progress Report - February 2021

I am pleased to share a progress update report of my experience as a recipient of the Ayudar Scholarship. Thanks to the support of the Ayudar Scholarship I have had the opportunity to start the programme of my dreams.

Coming from one of the most biodiverse places on earth, I was always fascinated about life in all its forms (plants, animals, fungi, etc.). I did a bachelor’s degree in Biology, where I got to know more about the theory of how nature works and about the challenges that biodiversity is facing nowadays. Additionally, I have always volunteered for different institutions that wanted to raise awareness about our natural resources, and which were looking for ways to protect them. I knew that I wanted to take part in this initiative, however, the knowledge and skills I had were not enough to pursue a career in Conservation Biology, due to it being a highly competitive field. That is why I decided to do a master’s degree in Conservation and Biodiversity at the University of Exeter, and I could not be happier about my chosen university and programme.’ Capitalise Masters and University. The modules I took in the first term have equipped me with writing and communication skills to effectively deliver results and ideas to a non-academic and academic audience, and also with skills in software used to analyse and present statistical information (Statistical Modelling) and in QGIS to analyse spatial information and determine which areas are suitable for protection of natural resources (GIS in Conservation Science). The lecturers are enthusiastic about their topics and are always encouraging us to think beyond the obvious and discuss ideas and interests, additionally, professionals from all over the world give us talks once a week about different hot topics in Biosciences, which is helpful as they give us an overview of what kind of research is being done at the university and outside of it. During my first term, I completed the Statistical Modelling module, as detailed above, and I chose the topic of my Final Research Project. I was able to meet my Supervisor for the first time and I have enjoyed meeting my peers via video conference – for now. Beyond academia, I joined the Journal Club where we discuss scientific papers and I also joined the “Falmouth Rockpool Citizen Science Project”, where we learn about how to survey marine animals living in rockpools at Gylly beach. Already this term I have continued to gain more skills that will help me in the future as a scientist. My plan is to join the summer courses offered by the Faculty of Biosciences to learn how to stand out in the Conservation field, and to learn different field techniques and skills. I will shortly start my Research Project and undertake field work in ornithology. I am currently researching and reading about the methods I can use for my research project and I will meet my supervisor to discuss them in detail. Finally, I would like to reiterate how grateful I am for the help you have given me, this scholarship has allowed me to focus on my studies and in getting the knowledge and skills, I need to pursue a career in Conservation Biology and apply them in my country, where biodiversity is decreasing at a rapid rate and needs immediate action. Thank you for your support and I look forward to meeting you when the situation allows it. Kind regards, Laura

Laura Pirateque Ayudar Scholar 2020-2021