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Taught by experts – internationally recognised research at University Centre South Devon

Dr Andrea Gaion, marine science lecturer, University Centre South Devon

Amid the difficulties created by the current global pandemic, research activity does not stop and continues to grow at the University Centre South Devon.

Over the past few years, there has been a continuous advance in the professionalism of the lecturers teaching and researching in different areas at the University Centre, including management, educational and child psychology, marine biology and environmental science among others.

Recently, Lynn Stephens, senior head for curriculum, published an article for the Chartered Management Institute, sharing her solutions to the challenges of teaching during the pandemic and encourage people out of their virtual shell.

Within the education sector, Sarah Kettle-Buchanan and Issy Hallam presented their findings at the annual conference of the Association of Colleges, demonstrating that the one-to-one support provided to the students at the UCSD not only improved their confidence but also their grades.

Supporting social development and mitigating classroom conflict was the main focus of another research project, conducted by Sam Smith and published In the British Psychological Society’s Journal of Educational and Child Psychology.

In her study, Samantha developed and tested an intervention to improve classroom environment for FE students and her findings showed how this helped to develop tolerance and perspective taking, reducing prejudice and conflict.

Considering the strong connection of our local area with the natural environment, our research activity also concentrates on the contamination of the sea and the protection of marine species.

In this context, Stuart Collier and I have recently published an article on the presence of some contaminants, known as flame retardants, in the flesh of Atlantic herrings.

They found concentrations of these contaminants exceeding many orders of magnitude the Environmental Quality Standard value, indicated by the European Parliament and the Council for priority substances.

The astounding consequence of the lecturers’ involvement in active research is that students can develop and carry out their own research, achieving amazing accomplishments such as publishing their findings in international peer-reviewed journals.

This is what happened to Laura Roberts, Ellana Morgan and Danielle Hutchinson, three former students at UCSD who published the results from their final-year research projects.

Laura Roberts harbour porpoise research

Laura studied the impact of marine vessels on the presence and behaviour of harbour porpoise in the waters off Berry Head in Brixham, demonstrating that presence and feeding behaviour reduced in response to increasing presence of vessels.

Again, in the field of marine biology but focusing on another species, Ellana and Danielle investigated the presence of plastic in the stomach of catsharks, a species commonly fished in our local area.

These are just some examples of the remarkable work conducted daily at UCSD, a local institute where people, staff and students, can produce internationally recognised research and be a point of referral for many people, youngsters and adults.

For further information, a full list of lecturers and their research interests can be found on the UCSD website https://www.ucsd.ac.uk/research-and-expertise/team/ or alternatively they can be contacted via email.