A PhD student from the Oban-based Scottish Association of Marine Science (SAMS) UHI has been named University of the Highlands and Islands Postgraduate Student of the Year 2016.
Laura Hobbs (27), from Hampshire, was selected for the award in recognition of her ground-breaking research into small marine creatures known as zooplankton.
During her four-year study, Laura discovered that Arctic zooplankton react to moonlight in the dark polar winter. She observed that zooplankton ascend and descend in response to light levels, perhaps to hide from light-dependent predators. Laura’s findings were published in the Current Biology journal and have been presented at UK and international conferences.
Laura was nominated for the award by her director of studies, Dr Finlo Cottier, a senior lecturer in polar oceanography at SAMS UHI. Dr Cottier explained: “Laura has completed 40 months of extraordinary postgraduate achievement and contribution.
"She has become a highly skilled and knowledgeable researcher in Arctic marine ecology and has made break-through discoveries in the place undergoing the most rapid change on our planet. As well as her exceptional academic skills, Laura has been generous with her time and energy in helping fellow early career scientists and the public understand Polar Regions.”
Speaking about her award Laura said: “Doing my PhD at SAMS UHI (pictured, left) has been a wonderful experience and the opportunities I’ve had over the last few years have allowed me to develop my skills and networks within the UK and internationally.
"During my four years at SAMS UHI I have been able to travel to remote parts of the world and contribute to high-level research.
“The support, not only from an outstanding supervisory team, but also everyone at SAMS and the wider university network has made my time here very enjoyable. I was thrilled to hear that I’d been nominated for the Postgraduate Student of the Year award and feel honoured to have been selected.”
University of the Highlands and Islands principal and vice-chancellor Professor Clive Mulholland said: “Laura has performed to the highest level throughout her PhD and is a worthy winner of our postgraduate student of the year award. Her work has contributed to our understanding of marine ecology and she has shared her knowledge and passion by taking part in committees, networks and outreach activities. I would like to congratulate Laura for her achievements and wish her all the best for her future career.”
As winner of the university’s Postgraduate Student of the Year award, Laura will be presented with a certificate and a cheque for £150 at the SAMS UHI graduation ceremony on Friday, September 9.