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Inspiring speaker sets SAMS UHI students on the road to research success

The head of science at Marine Scotland has urged graduates from the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS UHI) to help convey key public messages about climate change, as they begin their research careers.

Prof Colin Moffat (right) was guest speaker at graduation ceremony in Oban’s Argyllshire Gathering Halls last Friday, when 12 BSc marine science students and seven PhD students from the Dunstaffnage institute gained their awards. One Masters student, Thomas Butler, became the first student in the UK to receive a Masters by Research (MRes) in algal biotechnology.

Following his inspirational speech, in which he spoke passionately about the importance of marine science in helping us understand a fast-changing climate, Prof Moffat said: “We can’t manage the environment; we can only manage people and human activity. These graduates will have to help people understand that we can’t go on as we are.

“It is predicted that by 2050 nearly every seabird will have plastic in its stomach. That’s not acceptable. What do we do now to make sure that doesn’t happen? To make these changes and to take people with us we need evidence and we need the scientists to deliver.”

The graduation was also an opportunity to celebrate the individual achievements of students, not least Sam Black and Dr Laura Hobbs, who won the University of the Highlands and Islands undergraduate and postgraduate student of the year prizes respectively.

SAMS UHI Director Prof Nicholas Owens said: “It has been a magnificent day of celebration and I congratulate all of our graduates, who I hope will keep in touch with us.

“Our speakers, Profs Colin Moffat and Ian Bryden, University of the Highlands and Islands Vice Principal Research, had some great advice for our students.”

Other prizewinners on the day were: Johanna Fehling Memorial Prize for best published paper by a PhD student – Dr Greg Moschonas; Best Masters project conducted at SAMS – Jacob Bentley; SAMS Council Award for Academic Excellence – Felix Butschek; SAMS award for overall achievement – Rosalind Barnes; The Tim Boyd Prize for Oceanography – Lucy Hyams.

Graduation was held in the same week that SAMS UHI welcomed new cohorts of students across a number of courses. At the beginning of the academic year, the Dunstaffnage campus has 160 students across undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

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