There are freaky creatures to be found… meet Ellen Purdue one of APEM’s marine BioLabs team
Ellen Purdue joined APEM’s marine BioLabs expanding team in 2019 and shares her journey into a career in STEM.
Completing a grab survey with APEM
I have always been interested in the natural world especially the ocean with its unexplored depths, there are some freaky creatures to be found (just take a look at some deep-sea squid documentaries) and the thought of discovering things like that was too exciting to comprehend.
Growing up I always lived inland, so on family holidays to the coast I would spend as much time as possible in the sea, I wanted to spend all my time there, even with the freezing wind and rain. So predictably I decided to pursue a career in marine science after finishing my GCSE’s.
Unfortunately, after believing that A-levels stood between me and a career in marine science, I was almost put off continuing because of poor grades, but I persisted and continued on to achieve a BSc in Marine Environmental Science.
Turns out it was the best decision I could have made, achieving a 2:1 and then subsequently a merit in my masters. Luckily, I didn’t let A-levels put me off pursuing a career in science, otherwise I wouldn’t get to look at all weird and wonderful marine critters I get to see today!
Underwater survey assessing reef complexity
Probably the most interesting thing that I have learnt to date is that a surface’s complexity (how rough/smooth a surface is) affects the settlement and diversity of marine fauna and flora (something I learnt about in my undergraduate thesis on coral reef complexity, see the image below). There is evidence that recruitment is typically higher on a surface with higher complexity. This information can inform artificial structures around our coasts including artificial reefs, windfarm foundations and breakwaters, allowing us to artificially improve productivity and improve overall marine health.
I am fascinated by the interactions between man-made structures and biodiversity of macro and micro biota, something that I get to explore within my role within the marine BioLabs team, as our work characterising and monitoring habitats is used to inform environmental reports on marine construction projects at all stages of their life cycle.
The people I work with really make the job what it is, it’s a really supportive environment and everyone gets on so well. We also have such a curiosity about everything it really makes for interesting conversation. I recently worked from home due to covid and I really missed working in the lab with everyone. APEM also provides weekly webinars by specialists from various parts of the company allowing us to learn more about our colleagues and peers and their roles within the wider business.
Enjoying new years on the beach
Outside of work, I love live music, something I will be taking full advantage of this year. In addition to this getting out in nature with my friends and family is a must for me, especially when it’s by the coast.
Find out more about the work from our marine BioLabs here.
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