Whilst nearing the end of my final year of my BSc Marine Biology at the University of Aberdeen, I was delighted to be offered the opportunity to present my Honours Thesis: “Assessing predator-prey interactions within an operational wind farm” at the Houses of Parliament in London.
The ‘Posters in Parliament’ event 2023, organised by the British Conference of Undergraduate Researchers, offered a great opportunity to share preliminary research collected through the Moray Firth Marine Mammal Monitoring Programme and PrePARED project on the potential benefits of offshore wind farms on keys marine species, namely the Harbour Porpoise. As such, it was great to engage with policy makers and other attendees on the cumulative ecological effects of offshore wind farms on fish assemblages and marine mammals, and the research required to address current knowledge gaps acting as barriers to sustainable offshore development in the North Sea preventing the UK from reaching renewable energy targets.
I also attended a parliamentary outreach workshop, discussing the ways in which academic researchers can engage with policy makers. It was great to learn more about the respective roles of select committees, public bill committees and the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), and how specialist advice and knowledge generated by academic research can inform discussions and debates in Parliament.
Additionally, it was wonderful to meet students from universities across the UK and hear about such a wide diversity of undergraduate research, ranging from Alzheimer’s drug investigations and breast cancer culture medium to social investigations on involuntary celibate sub-cultures and AI assisted decision making in politics! I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to leave the Biological Sciences “bubble” and appreciate other fields of current academic research!
It was an absolute pleasure to present at the Posters in Parliament event, and a fantastic experience for an aspiring researcher such as myself. I am very grateful for the continued professional support from members of the University of Aberdeen, in particular my project supervisors Joanna Kershaw and Oihane Fernandez for all their encouragement, guidance and collaboration.