Dream ecology job for award-winner Beth

BSc (Hons) Biology graduate Beth Hanna has secured her dream job working as an Ecology Consultant after achieving a first-class honours degree. She also won an Outstanding Student Award from the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).

An accredited path

Beth’s BSc (Hons) Biology course provided the building blocks for her career. She chose modules that were accredited by the CIEEM. And she undertook a range of work placements that helped to develop new skills and knowledge.

She says: “I selected modules that are CIEEM accredited to pursue a career in ecology consultancy. And the lecturers at the University of Derby have a vast network of contacts offering support in securing voluntary and paid work experience across all disciplines."

“Thanks to my lecturers sharing job opportunities, I have carried out work experience with the Nottinghamshire Bat group, volunteered to carry out transects [sampling] on behalf of the Butterfly Conservation Trust. And undertook a full-time seasonal assistant role at Brindle and Green, an ecology consultancy based in Derby.”

These job roles gave Beth the chance to gain hands-on experience in surveying for protected species, collecting, analysing, and interpreting data to be included within ecological reports. She gained skills that allowed her to have a greater understanding of how to design experiments, manage research projects, and analyse and interpret results.

A group of bats flying at sunset

Exploring new destinations

As part of her course, Beth visited numerous destinations to gain hands-on experience.

Her first fieldtrip was to Meynell Langley, near Ashbourne in Derbyshire. She explains: “I was taught how to correctly conduct quadrats surveys, identify habitat types, and calculate species richness. In my third year, I revisited the site to learn how to conduct eDNA sampling and survey techniques for recording mammals, amphibians, and veteran trees.”

A visit to Kew Gardens allowed her to make notes on the adaptations of flora to climatic conditions across biomes (distinct biological communities). She says: “I paid particular interest to examples of convergent evolution - in preparation for an exam.”

With fellow students, she was invited to Course Director Dr Anne Danby’s farm to learn how the land was managed under UK and EU legislation, and principles and applications of conservation grazing and pest management. She says: “This trip gave us a real-life example of managing a working farm in a protected landscape, and how conservation can be achieved.”

Highland cattle grazing in rural land

Building knowledge and confidence

Beth’s confidence grew rapidly on the course. She says: “The biology course at the University of Derby has given me the opportunity to become confident in lab protocols, field skills, survey methods, and familiarising myself with new equipment.”

She says the support of her lecturers and their wealth of knowledge, along with teaching that catered to her needs and interests, and the skills she developed on her work placements all contributed to her final grade. She also feels that support on the course helped her to win the CIEEM Outstanding Student Award for the Biology pathway into ecology and environmental management. It also helped her to stand out at her interview after graduating.

And she has advice for anyone who is considering studying BSc (Hons) Biology at the University of Derby: “You will be joining an exciting, inclusive, and encouraging environment. The course is very diverse offering a wide range of specialist subjects taught by inspiring scientists established in their field. As a mature student I am pleased to have undertaken my degree in my mid-twenties as I feel that I was personally able to make the most of the opportunities that were offered to me. Combined with hard work, my time at the University of Derby has secured me the career that I wanted and a continued thirst for knowledge.”

Kedleston Road, Derby Campus entrance

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