Pioneering partnership names its first Ocean Giants Scholars

The University and Ocean Giants Trust have created unique opportunities for marine biology and conservation undergraduates

Written by Mr Alan Williams, Media & Communications Officer, University of Plymouth

Students from the University of Plymouth are being given the opportunity to work directly with international marine conservation organisations while completing their studies.

Thanks to a pioneering partnership between the University of Plymouth and the Ocean Giants Trust, a series of scholarships have been awarded to marine biology and conservation undergraduates.

The first Ocean Giants Scholars will get to complement their studies by working alongside charities based in locations such as Mexico (The Mexican Caribbean Manta Ray Project), Mozambique (Marine Megafauna Foundation), the Philippines (Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines) and Tanzania (Sea Sense) for the next three years.

This will include a placement during the students’ third year, when they will get the chance to travel and see the charities' work first hand.

The five scholars, and their selected deputies, will also work with the Trust to set up their own charity to support the organisations, and ensure the partnership becomes self-sustaining in the future.

Martin Attrill, Professor of Marine Ecology at the University, said:

“Nowhere in the world do undergraduate marine students get an opportunity of this nature. It will give them the unique experience of learning about marine biology and conservation with us, but also provides the chance to actually run a real environmental charity and apply those skills learned in the real world. Many of our students go on to work with conservation charities and NGOs when they graduate, and this will provide them with the perfect experience that could inspire their future careers.”

The Ocean Giants Trust seeks to develop enduring conservation solutions from pioneering research, to nurture local conservation action and education, to champion international protection and to inspire a new generation of Ocean Guardians.

A key part of its ethos is to encourage sustainability and financial independence, so that they can take advantage of local knowledge and develop expertise where it is most needed.

The plan is to award five scholarships each year, and the first scholars – and the organisations they will partner with – are:

  • Jenny Hickman (Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology) and deputy Nicholas Verhey (Conservation Biology) will work with the Ocean Giants Trust themselves;

  • Miriam Daughtery (Ocean Science and Marine Conservation) and deputy Jasmine Rix (Marine Biology and Oceanography) will work with the Marine Megafauna Foundation, recognised as a global leader in the field of research into the lives of whale sharks;

  • Jasper Grond (Marine Biology) and deputy Matilda Longstaff (Marine Biology) will work with The Mexican Caribbean Manta Ray Project, a research, conservancy and education programme seeking improved protection of manta species and their habitat;

  • Molly Outhwaite (Marine Biology and Oceanography) and deputy Elin Meek (Marine Biology and Oceanography) will work with Sea Sense, a Tanzanian NGO that works with coastal communities to conserve and protect endangered marine species including whale sharks, dugongs, sea turtles and large marine mammals;

  • Konstantinos Alexopoulos (Ocean Science and Marine Conservation) and deputy Eliya Keane (Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology) will work with LAMAVE, an NGO that seeks to spread awareness in the Philippines of whale sharks, sea turtles and several species of cetaceans.

Andy Prebble, chairman of the trustees at the Ocean Giants Trust, said:

“This is a really exciting moment, for us and the charities we work with but also for our first scholars. We hope their knowledge and passion can benefit our organisations, helping them to continue and expand the excellent work they are doing in often very challenging circumstances.

“For the students themselves, we hope it will give them an outstanding opportunity to put what they are learning into practice. It can be tough starting out, and NGOs often tell us the lack of relevant experience among graduates is one of the real issues they face, so this initiative should be a win-win for everyone involved.”


Notes to Editors

For more information about this news release, contact University of Plymouth Media & Communications Officer Alan Williams on 01752 588004 or email

About the University of Plymouth

The University of Plymouth is renowned for high quality, internationally-leading education, research and innovation.

With a mission to Advance Knowledge and Transform Lives, Plymouth is a *top 50 research university with clusters of world class research across a wide range of disciplines including marine science and engineering, medicine, robotics and psychology. A twice winner of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education, the University of Plymouth continues to grow in stature and reputation.

It has a strong track record for teaching and learning excellence, and has one of the highest numbers of National Teaching Fellows of any UK university. With 18,000 students, and a further 15,000 studying for a Plymouth degree at partner institutions in the UK and around the world, and over 100,000 alumni pursuing their chosen careers globally, it has a growing global presence.

* Research Fortnight Research Power League Table 2014.