Steven Allain

I’m a PhD student at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University Kent studying the population dynamics of the barred grass snake (Natrix helvetica) and the effects of ophidiomycosis. My passions include Great Britain’s native herpetofauna and what we can do to help both safeguard our reptiles and amphibians, whilst also working to educate the population on its importance. After all, people won’t protect what they don’t value or understand. You can find out more by following me on Twitter or by visiting my website.

Rhiannon Rees

Rhiannon Rees is a postgraduate research student within Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton.

2019-present: PhD Geology, University of Southampton.
PhD research project: Volcanic and geochemical evolution of the Ethiopian Rift in East Africa

2015-2019: MSci (Hons) Geology, University of Birmingham.
MSci thesis title: Manam: a characterisation of the history, eruptive processes, petrology, and hazards of one of Papua New Guinea’s most active volcanoes.

Nicole Forstenhaeusler

I am PhD student based in the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, studying the effects of climate change on global fluvial flooding and investigating how flood models can be improved by use of regionalisation methods. My research is jointly funded by the Faculty of Science of the University of East Anglia and the Amar-Franses and Foster-Jenkins Trust. I am supervised by Dr. Ing. Yi He, Prof. Timothy Osborn and Prof. Andrés Bárdossy (based at the University of Stuttgart, Germany).

The aim of my PhD project is the development of a regionalised global hydrological model to assess the impacts of climate change on flood risks. To date, only a handful of global hydrological models to simulate long-term water balance and to simulate streamflow have been developed. These models often suffer from a lack of regionalised model parameters which renders their simulation output somewhat unreliable. With my work I aim to address this shortcoming of existing models and to thus increase the reliability of flooding projections under changing climatic conditions.

Prior to working on my PhD, I completed a MSc in Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia and spent 4 years working as a research associate. My research focused on climate change impacts, primarily on agricultural yield and biodiversity but also on drought and flooding. Among others, I contributed to the HELIX (high-end climate impacts and extremes) and the EUCalc (European Calculator) project.

Matthew Woodard

Project title: The role of chloroplasts in responding to drought stress in plants

Research group: Plants and food security

Degrees: Master of Zoology with Herpetology (MZool), Master of Science in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (MSc)

Personal website:

Twitter & Instagram: @MaW_Science & plants_n_cells

Other interests: Wildlife photography, reading, whisky, and gaming.


I completed my undergraduate integrated masters in zoology at Bangor University. During my 4th year I conducted a research project that looked at the potential of producing insect-resistant transgenic plants using an insecticidal toxin from spider venom. This project gave me a taste of plant molecular biology and its applications in crop science/agriculture. I also spent a summer conducting lab work for a researcher at Bangor that involved molecular biology work on rice. These two experiences cultivated a passion for lab work and specifically that surrounding plant molecular biology. I therefore decided to complete a 1-year MSc in molecular biology to gain more experience in a lab setting and to learn fundamental techniques, before applying for plant molecular biology PhD projects. I am now in my second year of a plant molecular biology PhD project studying chloroplast-to-nucleus retrograde signalling (see below).

Research interests

I am interested in plant molecular biology in general but with a specific passion for how plants respond to both abiotic and biotic stress. Within this topic, I am working on the signals sent from the chloroplast to the nucleus (retrograde signalling) during drought stress, the molecular basis for these signals and their overall effect on the plant. Additionally, I intend to examine the potential of manipulating the relevant signalling pathways for the production of drought-tolerant plants. The application of plant molecular biology in crop science to deal with the challenges of climate change and food security is a strong research interest and passion of mine.

Personal website/blog

Earlier this year I set up the website This acts as both my personal website and a place for me to write articles on scientific topics. I have always enjoyed writing and have a passion for topics outside of my own research area. I ran a zoology blog during my time as an undergraduate, but I wanted a space that would allow me to cover a larger variety of topics. On I have a blog page which consists of detailed scientific articles, a page titled ‘PhDing’ in which I intent to write about my experiences as a PhD student as well as hopefully provide advice and tips for other PhD students, and finally I have ‘book corner’ which I intent to fill with short reviews on popular science books. As the website was published only recently, there is only a small amount of content currently, but it will be added to frequently.

Hannah Kemp

University of Nottingham, School of Geography

Envision PhD – Bloomin’ Blanket Weed: managing nuisance algae in UK freshwater bodies






Hi! I am a second year PhD student in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham. My interest in freshwater bodies has developed over the years from exploring the physical characteristics of lakes and rivers, how they change overtime and the advantages and disadvantages of implementing different restoration and management techniques. I am really excited to be taking on the Wetlands challenge as part of enviroSPRINT as well as meeting and collaborating with lots of new people. In my spare time I enjoy going on long walks, pottering in the garden and knitting in front of the TV!

Current research

Across the UK, many standing freshwater ecosystems are experiencing increasingly frequent and widespread blooms of blanket weed. The formation of thick mats at the lake surface cause major ecological damage by harbouring pathogens and decreasing aquatic plant diversity. Blooms also reduce the amenity value of freshwater bodies by looking unsightly, preventing water-based activities and negatively impacting conservation work. Currently the extent, cause and consequences of these prolific blooms are largely unknown.

This PhD project employs (1) Questionnaire surveys gathered from freshwater sites across the UK to formulate a better understanding of the extent of the problem; and (2) Limnological monitoring and experiments with macroalgae cultures to assess spatial and temporal patterns and identify the main environmental drivers of the blooms. Results from the entirety of this project will inform effective and sustainable management techniques, using the National Trust’s lake at Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire as a model for application elsewhere.

See the below infographic for more information about Hannah’s exciting research. This was created by Hannah following an infographics training course delivered by infohackit.

Call for research participation

Do you work/volunteer with an organisation that manages a freshwater body such as a lake or pond in the UK? If yes, I need your help!

I have created a questionnaire to investigate the changes in quantity, distribution and frequency of blanket weed blooms in the UK including, but not limited to, National Trust water bodies. It is also investigating the impact blanket weed blooms have on the waterbody uses and what forms of management are being put into practice to reduce algae blooms.

By participating in this questionnaire, you will be helping put together a UK wide dataset about blanket weed algae blooms to better understand the scale of the problem. Your answers will also help inform research into how best to manage blanket weed blooms whilst maintaining good ecological status and lake amenity value. Answers about waterbodies that do NOT experience blanket weed blooms are just as important!

If you would be interested in taking part in this research or could help facilitate the distribution of the questionnaire in your organisation please email me

Thank you!

Caption: Cladophora bloom at Highfields Lake, University of Nottingham