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Winnie's a winner at national student awards ceremony

Winnie Courtene Jones, second from right, with her student of the year award
Winnie Courtene Jones, second from right, with her student of the year award

A SAMS UHI student who is investigating the effects of microplastics on the deep ocean has been awarded a national title for her research.


Winnie Courtene Jones, a University of the Highlands and Islands PhD student, was the overall winner at the fifth annual P1 Marine Foundation National Student Awards supported by The Crown Estate, Marine Conservation Society and the Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology. The ceremony was held at The Royal Institution of Great Britain in central London.


The awards evening celebrated and rewarded students in higher education whose projects help to provide solutions to the threats to the marine and coastal environment.


As well as winning the student of the year title for her ground-breaking project ‘Microplastics in the deep sea ecosystem’, Winnie will receive £1,000 to further her research. 


“I am thrilled and honoured to have been chosen as the winner of the National Student Awards for my PhD research examining microplastic pollution in the deep sea,” said Winnie. “My multi-disciplinary project involves assessing microplastics in the Northeast Atlantic deep-sea ecosystem and considering the vertical transport of these particles to depth.”               


The entries were judged by a panel of scientists, academics and environmentalists including Rosie Kelly, Marine Policy Manager and Harriet Nicholls, Marine Policy Analyst at The Crown Estate; Dr Trevor Dixon, Marine Pollution Specialist at Advisory Committee of the Protection of the Sea and Dr Laura Foster, Marine Conservation Society Pollution Programme Manager. The panel looked for projects with environmental merit, originality, practicality and ground-breaking content.


SAMS UHI Director Prof Nicholas Owens said: “Within SAMS and across the wider community of the University of the Highlands and Islands, we are extremely proud of Winnie’s achievement.


“Winnie’s work is very important to society, as we seek to discover the effects of microplastics on our ocean environment. There is much work to be done in this research area and Winnie has already demonstrated her potential to make a significant contribution.


“I am sure that this award is a springboard to a highly successful career in marine science.”


The awards evening also provided the winning students with the opportunity to showcase their projects to a diverse audience of business executives, charities, government representatives and the media.


“This year we received excellent undergraduate and postgraduate entries from all across the UK, with a wide range of projects including micro plastics, green engineering, environmental DNA and monitoring of egg cases.” said Roy Mantle, Trustee at P1 Marine Foundation. “We are delighted that our Awards are giving prominence to exciting and valuable projects of this nature that go beyond research and analysis to develop solutions for marine conservation.”