Student wins national prize for sea turtle study
A Cornwall Campus-based University of Exeter student has won a national prize for his research. Conservation and Ecology student Sam Weber has been awarded the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) Thomas Henry Huxley Award and Marsh Prize for his PhD thesis on endangered green turtles at Ascension Island.
ZSL’s annual Scientific Awards recognise outstanding achievements in the field of zoological research and conservation. Sam received his prize, alongside the other prize winners, at the 2011 Stamford Raffles Lecture, which was held at ZSL London Zoo on Tuesday 21 June.
Sam Weber said: “I feel very honoured to have had my PhD research recognised by a world renowned institution like ZSL, and I hope that I am able to go on and contribute to the Society's mission of conserving animals and their habitats in the UK and overseas. Although my name is on the award, a great deal of the credit must go to my supervisory team at the University of Exeter, and to my fiancé and family who supported me so well throughout my PhD studies.”
Sam’s PhD thesis took him to Ascension Island, a tiny British overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean, with a population of 1,000. There, he spent 12 months studying how the egg composition and nesting behaviour of green turtles affect their chance of producing healthy hatchlings.
Speaking of his research project, Sam said: “Ascension Island is a very special place. Its remoteness, and the warmth and generosity of the islanders, particularly the Ascension Island Government Conservation Department, made my PhD fieldwork a hugely enjoyable time.”
Dr Jonathan Blount of the University of Exeter supervised Sam’s PhD along with Dr Annette Broderick, and nominated Sam for the award. He said: “Sam was in many ways an exceptional PhD student, a deep thinker and very talented in the field and the laboratory. His excellent thesis makes novel and important contributions to our understanding of the factors which influence reproductive success in the endangered green turtle. I‘m absolutely delighted that his achievements have been recognised by the giving of this prestigious award.”
Now aged 29, Sam Weber completed an MSc in Ecology and Conservation with the University of Exeter at the Cornwall Campus before embarking on his PhD studies. He is due to marry his fiancé, fellow University of Exeter PhD student Nicola Reed, in October. The couple then plan to take their expertise overseas to work with a conservation charity.
Date: 22 June 2011