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Ocean Minds presents Megan Clampitt

Profession: PhD Candidate

Organisation: Institute for Research on Cancer and Ageing, Nice (IRCAN) & Université Cote d’Azur (UCA)

Megan inspires me with her drive and passion. She is a kind and intelligent individual with incredible knowledge on corals and their surrounding ecosystems. She is always there when I need her advice and continues to encourage me to pursue a career in academia.

1. How did we meet?

We met in the Maldives while working on the Velaa Private Island Coral Project.

2. What is one memorable ocean moment from our time together?

The dive that comes to mind is Emma’s 100th dive, haha. Other than that, definitely when we spotted that manta from the boat and snorkelled really near to it.

3. What encouraged you to purse a career in marine biology/conservation?

Traveling has been a big part of influencing and shaping the person that I am today. Snorkelling in Thailand and seeing all the colourful fish first sparked my interest and made me want to pursue diving. So while doing a 4 month solo backpacking trip, I learned how to scuba dive and instantly fell in love with not only diving but the marine environment.

4. How did you land your current job?

I completed my MSc in Marine Conservation this past summer, 2020. My master’s degree thesis work focused on extracting data from coral photographs taken during the tara pacific expedition. The work I did for my master’s thesis and the connections I made led to the current project I am working on for my PhD.

5. What is it about your role that makes you feel like you are truly making a difference?

My PhD project aims to use artificial intelligence tools to monitor coral health. My background is completely marine biology/conservation, so it’s really interesting to tackle marine biology from a whole new angle and it’s something I’m really enjoying the combination of machine learning and marine biology. Technological advances are helping to shape and change the future of this field. So, being part of that definitely helps me feel like I’m making a difference. it’s exciting and gratifying.

6. What advice would you give to aspiring ocean warriors?

Don’t give up! Marine biology is a tough field to break into. Work hard and keep pushing through and never forgot how important networking and connections are. I have a solid resume with thorough field/work experience, but the connections I have made along the way are what have really helped me land where I am today.

7. What has been your most unforgettable experience in the ocean and why?

My most unforgettable ocean experience was a night dive I did in Bonaire with my dive buddies at the time. It was an ostracod dive. Ostracods are tiny crustaceans that generate blue light once a month as part of their mating display. It was a dive I will never forget; it was like floating through starlight.

8. Who has inspired you to achieve your goals?

All throughout my career, I have been shaped by strong women leading coral conservation projects (Francesca and Bridget from Reef Renewal Bonaire, Martha from Coral Restoration Foundation.) These women have all taught me so much and helped me not only see what I wanted my future to look like but helped given me the skills I needed to get there.

9. What do you hope to achieve in the future?

I hope that with my PhD project, I can help play a role in making coral health monitoring more efficient and accessible and that I can continue to work on not only coral reef conservation but also ocean conservation as a whole.

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