Stacey Hanley (1st year Genetics student)
From the moment I decided to return to higher education as a mature student, I was determined to make the most of the opportunities that were available to me; this determination has led me to where I am now as a member of the Egypt 2017 Marine Expedition. In the first few weeks of university in amongst all the Fresher’s fun, introduction lectures and finding my feet as a student, I learned of an evening being hosted by the Exploration Society to present their plans for the coming summer. Feeling intrigued I went along and left clutching application forms and excited to be a member of the Society. After submitting an application and attending an interview I received the call I was waiting on from Guy Henderson… I was part of the team! The following months were filled with planning, meetings, fundraising, grant applications, excited chats about Egypt and getting to know one another. At 28 I was the oldest of the team but the academic baby, being only in my first year of university, however I had no need to worry as the rest of the friendly team made me feel included straight away.
My hopes for the expedition were twofold – I wanted to challenge myself academically and personally, this trip would involve the longest time I had spent away from home and meant immersing myself in many new experiences. A major personal achievement was in the first week when I gained my PADI Open Water certification, fulfilling a long held ambition to become a diver. Throughout my time here I have benefitted from the guidance and mentoring of experienced divers enabling me to gain confidence and improve my skills (so much so that I am now working towards Advanced Open Water!). My new diving skills have allowed me to explore a truly beautiful underwater world and experience breath-taking sights.
Academically I have gained experience of the practicalities and realities of scientific research – as not all goes to plan, adaptability and problem solving are crucial skills to have! My knowledge of tropical fish and invertebrate species has greatly improved, by helping with species identification in projects, reading scientific papers and learning scientific names of fish families. I have been involved in two of our four projects, primarily helping with data collection in the intertidal area of the beach, in Clara’s biodiversity study and also assisting Bella on the speedboat as she drops a state of the art 3D camera off the side! I have also benefitted by being around those who are academically further ahead than myself – from one year ahead to senior lecturer and everything in between – each person has given me their own perspective and advice on the path that lies ahead.
Overall, I feel that this expedition has been an extremely valuable experience and has given me confidence in proceeding to second year at Glasgow. I have made new friends and had many incredible experiences that I will never forget – swimming with turtles and a dugong were truly amazing moments. I have gained many skills and have soaked in knowledge that I hope will benefit me in the years to come. While the work has been hard due to long days and (very!) hot weather it has been fun, rewarding and very worthwhile.