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From Vitoria to Victoria via SAMS UHI

Seychelles-bound Dr Ander de Lecea points out his next destination during a return visit to SAMS UHI
Seychelles-bound Dr Ander de Lecea points out his next destination during a return visit to SAMS UHI

One of the first SAMS UHI undergraduate students has returned to Dunstaffnage to forge new connections, 10 years after completing his degree course.

Dr Ander Martinez de Lecea will be taking up a new job in September this year as a senior lecturer with the University of Seychelles and will work within its Blue Economy Research Institute based in Victoria. He returned to SAMS UHI last week to explore collaborations with head of aquaculture Dr Adam Hughes, who recently spent a sabbatical on the island situated off the east coast of Africa.

The visit was a trip back in time for Dr de Lecea, who first came to Dunstaffnage in 2003 as one of three students beginning a BSc in Marine Science, a course that ran for the first time at SAMS UHI in 2000.

Following graduation in 2007, he completed an MSc in marine resources, development and protection at Heriot Watt University. After gaining a PhD from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, Dr de Lecea worked in South Africa for the four years before moving to Brest in France last November.

“It is great to come back to SAMS and see lots of friends,” said Dr de Lecea, who hails from Vitoria, near Bilbao. “It is strange to think that I was here 10 years ago, nervously waiting to find out my final marks.

“I was a student for 11 years and I have travelled a lot but Oban is still one of my favourite places and the grounding I got at SAMS really helped me in my future studies. I fondly recall trips with the enthusiastic Dr John Howe and getting to know all the scientists in the café. I learnt a lot from those informal conversations. Through those connections and relationships I also had the opportunity to volunteer for lots of field work.”

Dr de Lecea is now a lecturer in his own right and will help shape the marine science provision at the University of Seychelles, established just seven years ago. Dr de Lecea and his South African wife, bioeconomist Dr Rachel Cooper, are two of six lecturers recently taken on at the ambitious university, which will have its qualifications validated by the University of London.

SAMS Deputy Director Prof Axel Miller, who lectured on Dr de Lecea’s undergraduate degree course, said: “It was a joy to see Ander return to SAMS UHI as a researcher who has built an excellent reputation in the marine science community.

“The Blue Economy is an area of growth globally, especially for island nations, and I am excited to see Ander at the forefront of a developing sector in the Seychelles.

“I am pleased to hear that his experience at SAMS gave him the tools to succeed in academia and I hope his story can inspire our current students to achieve great things.”

For more on Dr de Lecea’s experience and to find out how SAMS UHI helped to shape his career, see