Career opportunities after Marine Science

A degree in marine science from Ulster University opens many new doors in terms of your career choices. This section looks at some of the careers chosen by our marine science graduates and presents short profiles of alumni outlining a variety of career paths.

A marine science degree not only provides scientific knowledge of the marine environment, but places strong emphasis on key and transferable skills which are highly regarded by employers. Our marine science graduates typically work in coastal and water resource management, environmental impact assessment, coastal and offshore engineering, hydrography, remote sensing, sea bed exploration and survey, government laboratories, oil and gas industries, aquaculture industries, marine conservation, fisheries, ecotourism, oceangraphic institutes, marine environmental consultancy, policy making, and regulatory authorities.

Where are they now?

Alumni case studies: find out what some of our marine science alumni have to say about their time at Ulster and what they are doing now.

Sarah Bond: Marine Mammal Scientist

I graduated in 2016 after studying in Sydney at UNSW for my exchange year. After completing my degree in marine science at Ulster, I worked for the summer at Blue Ocean Monitoring Ltd., which gave me valuable insight to the commercial sector of marine science. In September 2016, I will start on the MSc Marine Mammal Science at the University of St Andrews. This will develop on the material I studied on my undergraduate degree at Ulster, as well as being exposed to new modules focused specifically on the biology and management of marine mammals. One optional module of particular interest is predator ecology in polar ecosystems, which entails a fieldtrip aboard a research vessel to Antarctica. I am extremely excited and fortunate to be given the chance to study this competitive masters programme, which has only been possible due to the opportunities available at Ulster University. After my masters degree, I plan to continue my research of marine mammals in a PhD.

Niall McGinty: Fisheries Scientist

I graduated in 2006 and then completed an MSc in Marine Science at the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University. There I worked on the role of mussel beds as a refuge for algae from limpet grazing. In 2008 I began my doctorate research at NUI Galway, exploring the variability of zooplankton populations in Irish waters across a broad range of spatial and temporal scales. I completed my PhD research in 2011 and since then I have had the opportunity to work in some of the most amazing locations. I have since branched out from zooplankton research and now work on all aspects of marine spatial ecology. This included a 12 month post-doc position in the Azores investigating tuna and whale shark interactions and I am currently employed as a MARICE Postdoc at the University of Iceland working on species distribution modelling of commercially important fish species (e.g cod, herring, mackerel).

Charles Ford: Sustainable Aquaculture Industry

Upon graduation in 2015, I returned to South Australia to work at Kangabbie Aquaculture Farm, where I had spent my placement year in 2013. My work there consisted primarily of trying to develop a more sustainable, and productive feeding programme in crayfish aquaculture. We worked closely alongside professors from Flinders University, Australia. The research I conducted followed on from the feed trial which formed the basis of my Bachelor Degree Dissertation. Fundamentally, we were trying to reduce the reliance upon fishmeal in the production of aquaculture feed. In September 2016, I travelled back to Scotland to begin a MSc in Sustainable Aquaculture at Stirling University. I intend to pursue a career in this subject area, and hopefully contribute to improving the sustainability of the ever growing UK aquaculture industry.

Alistair Archibald: PhD Researcher

After graduating in 2014, I gained an internship at Carntogher Community Association, where I was responsible for GIS, mapping and fieldwork. The work involved a combination of desktop study and fieldwork, using state of the art hardware and software. After the internship ended, I was kept on as a consultant for GIS and mapping related work. This internship was excellent for both work experience, including making professional judgments within my area of expertise and engaging with colleagues from diverse disciplines.In 2015 Istarted an EPA-funded PhD in Trinity College Dublin, investigating the causes of diatom algal blooms in the Vartry Reservoir system. Although freshwater based, many of the tools and skills that I learned through my degree course are proving invaluable at this early stage. The project really appeals to me, as if successful, it will bring direct benefit to the wider public and may act as a template for further studies of algal bloom problems in similar mesotrophic lakes in Ireland and further afield. Working as part of a multidisciplinary team, with chemists, environmental engineers and hydrologists, is an excellent opportunity for learning new skills.

Ryan McKenna: Marine Assessment Support Officer

I graduated in 2012 having completing a year long international exchange program at Flinders University (South Australia). In 2013, I completed an internship with Ireland’s National Advanced Marine Technology Programme of the Marine Institute in Galway where I gained significant insight into the marine Information Communication Technology sector. In the following summer of 2014, I was fortunate to find myself coordinating a GIS team for the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation in Greece as a volunteer funded by a Leonardo Di Vinci scholarship. My team and I later went on to win the €5,000;2014 Copernicus Masters Energy & Environment Challenge prize sponsored by DLR (German Aerospace Center). After a short spell as an aerial surveyor for the UK Environment Agency I have found myself working in the research and development of environmental indicators for national and regional policy concerning offshore marine protected areas at the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) in England. My journey is far from over. However, connections made through studies, volunteer work, competitions and international exchange have been invaluable.

Becky Creed: Coastal Resource Manager

I graduated in 2012 after spending my placement year as a project coordinator at the Atlantic Whale Foundation, based in Tenerife. During this placement, I was given some amazing opportunities including regular boat trips to carry out surveys on the resident and migratory cetacean populations as well as underwater video recording of Pilot Whales, a truly unforgettable experience! I was also fortunate to be sent independently to Argentina for two months to set up a new environmental awareness project. The responsibility and opportunities that I was given during my placement boosted my confidence and ultimately helped me in achieving the final grade in my BSc. The BSc at Ulster and the opportunity of a placement year provide excellent possibilities to gain and develop many employable skills that I have now recognised as essential within the marine science industry. Furthermore, if you like to travel like me, it opens many doors to working and travelling further afield! Upon leaving Ulster, I decided to travel and spent two years living and working in Australia as well as exploring Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu. During my first year in Australia, I worked as a Marine Biologist on the Great Barrier Reef. This was an incredible experience and enabled me to gain valuable practical skills and knowledge. Through travelling experiences, I developed a keen interest in coastal and marine management and subsequently returned to the UK in 2015 and completed a MSc in Coastal and Marine Resource Management at the University of Portsmouth. This MSc enabled me to gain invaluable knowledge in highly topical areas such as policy, marine planning and stakeholder engagement. It also provided excellent networking opportunities, allowing me to present as a guest speaker at two conferences. I am also in the process of publishing my first paper through the research that I carried out as part of my MSc dissertation, which was credited with the Solent Forum Professor Mike Clark Award. Having received a Distinction in my MSc, I am now very focused on pursing a career in flood risk management, which will begin in April 2017 when I start a new position at Canterbury City Council as a Coastal Process Technician.

Connor McCarron: PhD Researcher in Sediment Dynamics

In 2012 I graduated with after completing a placement year at the Loughs Agency. During my final year I continued to work for the Loughs Agency as an assistant scientific officer and was offered a role as a research support technician providing technical support for MPhil and PhD students studying under the IBIS project. I recently completed a masters in Applied Marine Geoscience at Bangor University after being awarded a Petroleum Exploration Society scholarship and started a PhD in October 2014, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). In my PhD I will attempt to improve understanding of shelf seabed dynamics in mixed sediments, through the analysis of offshore geophysical data, flume experiments and numerical modelling.

Kieranna McCormick: Marine Biologist

In 2012 I graduated after undertaking an incredible placement during my third year with a volunteer NGO based in Tenerife which focused on cetacean research; this led to further opportunities in West Africa and Budapest. Thanks to this opportunity I was able to finally decide which of the many marine science paths to go down and subsequently enrolled on an MSc in Marine Biology with University College Cork. I am currently spending three months in north east Iceland conducting pioneering research on humpback whales for my thesis, with the potential to publish when I’m finished. I look forward to starting a PhD within the field of marine mammal sciences. The academic foundations, opportunities and connections I’ve gained from Ulster continue to help me as I progress through my career in science.

Ross McComish: Oceanographer

I graduated from Ulster in 2012 after becoming very interested in both the bathymetric mapping and hydro-dynamic forcing when undertaking modules in seafloor mapping and coastal processes. I then embarked on an MSc in Oceanography in the National Oceanography Centre (Southampton), where I am currently doing my thesis. During my time as a BSc marine science undergrad, I learned a number of transferable skills and software packages that have contributed massively while undertaking my MSc. I also undertook a placement in Tenerife with a diving company and gained certification to dive-master level. I believe that my time as undergraduate both in university and on placement has benefited and matured me as person and given me focus for where I want to take my career.

Aaron Kirkpatrick: Marine Mammal Scientist

I graduated in 2011, after spending 12 months at Flinders University in Australia on the study-abroad scheme (DIAS). I subsequently completed an internship with; Cetacea Lab Canada in 2012, researching whales off the coast of British Columbia in Canada. In 2013, I was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to complete a Masters in Marine Mammal Science at the University of Miami in Florida. In 2015, I started a PhD in the Laboratory of Ecological and Adaptational Physiology (LEAP) at Balyor University Texas, investigating the physiological adaptations and mechanism of animals in extreme and changing environmental conditions.

Craig Dyer: Hydrographic Surveyor

I graduated in 2011 and started working straight away with Fugro EMU in Southampton. I am now a Senior Hydrographic Surveyor, responsible for the collection and consolidation of high-resolution bathymetric data. One of the many surveys we are completing is the UK Civil Hydrography Programme, helping the UKHO and MCA update nautical charts for safe navigation. The material covered in lectures and the practical experience gained from Ulster helped me gain employment in this sector.

Andrew Boyd: Offshore Data Processor

I graduated from Ulster in 2010 and subsequently went on to complete an MSc in GIS at Ulster, with some travelling in between. During my undergraduate degree I found a passion for sea floor mapping and surveying. I am currently employed as a trainee data processor with Fugro Survey in Aberdeen. Working in the marine surveying industry was a natural progression for me with great opportunities to travel, meet new people and spend a lot of time at sea!

Ben Collier: Marine Biologist

I graduated in 2008. Undertaking my bachelor’s degree at the School of Environmental Sciences provided me with a firm platform, from which I continued my studies to post graduate level, completing an MSc in Marine Biology at the University of Essex. Since leaving academia, I have worked in various positions within the environmental sector and am currently employed as the Senior Biologist with the Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust, having spent my initial two years as biologist. The skills, knowledge and experience that I gained throughout my time at the University of Ulster equipped me for my post graduate studies and have been invaluable in aiding my transition from a student to a professional scientist.

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