May 21, 2022

Helen Ford placement – ZSL

Helen Ford

Details of student and placement

Name: Helen Ford

Institution: Bangor University

Placement Host: Zoological Society of London


I wanted to do a placement with a scientist that I have admired since I first saw her give a talk at a conference in the first year of my PhD. I had heard great things about her from friends and colleagues. I did my placement with Dr Heather Koldewey, who is Section Head of Global Programmes at the Zoological Society of London and has a number of links with projects in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) and in the science-policy interface. My placement started in January 2021 and I was only able to work from home due to all the restrictions from the pandemic.

As soon as I started, I was given a great and interesting responsibility to help Heather put together a presentation that she was to give to politicians at a virtual ocean conservation all-party parliamentary group meeting on how climate change will impact the ocean and coastal communities. I felt privileged to have played a big part in helping to communicate on such important issues to politicians.

Heather also gave me the opportunity to contribute to the development of other projects like one that is working to reduce the amount of plastic pollution in British Indian Ocean Territory. This involved working on the data analysis of questionnaire and beach clean data, allowing me to develop confidence in running statistical analyses with different types of data than I am used to working with.

Another highlight and an ongoing output of the internship is a review of the current literature that explores how marine plastic pollution and climate change are linked. It is during the writing of this document that I realised how much I enjoy collaboration and getting to work alongside new people and to be able share the skills and expertise that I have developed during my PhD.

The topics I have read about, the data analysis techniques I have learnt and the confidence I have gained in my writing and collaboration, will aid me greatly in completing my PhD. This internship has been invaluable, and I would encourage others to do the same and approach scientists directly that share your research interests. It also helps if you surround yourself with scientists that are great to work with!