New role for Lancaster Environment Centre marine biologist

Dr Gemma Fenwick
Dr Gemma Fenwick

A marine biologist who has spent time working in Mexico, Indonesia, and the south Cumbria coast has been appointed as a Teaching Fellow at Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC).

Dr Gemma Fenwick has spent several years in different roles at LEC, and said she is now looking forward to building more teaching content in marine biology and working alongside students on their research projects.

Gemma, who lives in Kendal, undertook her undergraduate studies in Marine and Freshwater Biology at the University of Essex.

Her first role out of university was working as a fish ecologist, at Cefas.

She completed her PhD in marine and behavioural ecology with the University of London, based at the University Marine Biological Station Millport, after which she spent time working on national and international marine research contracts.

For four and a half years, she worked as a lecturer in Marine Biology at Blackpool and the Fylde College, delivering on the Lancaster University accredited degree in Marine Biology, before starting a Research Associate role with Professor Nick Graham in the LEC Reefs team, in 2019.

She worked on different coral reef research projects as part of the role, before taking a 15-month lectureship within LEC, after which she returned to a research role.

In late 2023, she took the Teaching Fellow role within the department.

Gemma said: “I'm excited to build more teaching content in marine biology, including residential field work.

“I gained a lot of invaluable knowledge and experience in marine field work during my time studying and in work, it would be great to apply this to provide similar experiences for undergraduates and postgraduates within LEC.

“I am also looking forward to working alongside students on their research projects.

“So far, I've been fortunate enough to deliver on some great modules, including Coral Reef Ecology, Vertebrate Biology and Populations to Ecosystems and I've found staff supportive and welcoming.

“I also have the privilege of overseeing the Staff Student Consultative Committee, working closely with our student reps to ensure the student voice is heard.”

Gemma has worked across various tropical and temperate marine environments, and for the past seven years, she ran the marine research programme in Akumal, Mexico, studying the turtle biology and behaviour within the marine protected area, as well as monitoring the coral reef and seagrass beds.

“Within the UK, I collaborate with the North West Wildlife Trust, working on the seagrass beds off the south coast of Cumbria and I also work with the North Western Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority, assessing the sustainability of their fisheries and advising on their management,” she said.

“I collaborate on various projects within the LEC Reefs team, including the mineral analysis of coral reef benthos in the Seychelles and exploring the vulnerability of coral reef fishes in the Western Indian Ocean.”

Gemma said she spent the majority of her free time fell running, climbing and swimming with her labrador Pickle in tow.

She added: “When I can, I head to the North East or North Wales coast for some surfing.

“As a result of my activities, I'm also regularly seen around LEC on crutches!”

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