St Abbs helps students get to grips with marine research

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Getting to study surrounded by beautiful scenery and being able to observe wildlife such as seabirds, dolphins and porpoises are only some of the reasons that make Edinburgh Napier’s partnership with St Abbs Marine Station so beneficial.
Our strong partnership with the state-of-the-art facility in Berwickshire gives students opportunities to engage in exciting research on current and future challenges to coastal and marine environments.

The harbour-side research station is a base for scientists to study the complex interactions between the sea and humans as part of a partnership between a charity and Edinburgh Napier and Heriot-Watt Universities, members of the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS).

It is hoped that the facility – which is particularly well suited for climate change-related studies, larval research and studies on life-cycles and rearing techniques – will become a key training ground for the next generation of marine scientists.

The marine station, a registered charity funded by private donors, opened in 2015 and was the culmination of four years of planning, development and construction work in the historic harbour village.

Dedicated to marine science, conservation and education, it boasts a laboratory, offices, a 275m² research area for aquaria and a separate 100,000-litre mesocosm tank. All tanks are provided with a continuous supply of fresh seawater and are under a transparent roof, allowing natural light throughout the research area.

Student Jenny carried out her research project on seabirds at St Abbs

The collaboration agreement with Edinburgh Napier University and Heriot-Watt University saw senior research staff from the academic partners, Dr Karen Diele from Edinburgh Napier and Dr Bill Sanderson from Heriot-Watt, being seconded to the marine station as Co-Directors of Research to develop an innovative and challenging research programme for the facility.

The marine station is already giving PhD students opportunities to conduct research and undergraduate and postgraduate students engaged with marine biology at the two universities will also benefit hugely from the collaboration.

Dr Karen Diele said: “The station is a jewel for scientists and students alike, and I am very much looking forward to developing ambitious and exciting research with my partners here at St Abbs. Our future research programme will aim to provide the scientific basis for the conservation and sustainable use of the fascinating marine environment at our doorstep.”