Our alumni

Discover what our recent graduates have gone on to do

Tim O’Brine 

Fisheries Lecturer at Hadlow College

I have been working for MARS Petcare in the R&D department for seven years’ in a heavily risk assessed and regulated environment and developed a strong pedigree in operational management of the fish research centre to meet MARS Quality Management System (QMS), AAALAC and ASPA 1986 standards. I had the privilege to participate and then lead a coral reef rehabilitation team in Indonesia whilst on a MARS Ambassador project – participating in one of the largest coral reef rehabilitation programmes in the world in South Sulawesi, Indonesia.

I also undertook Home Office personal licensee holder training and conducted several licensed procedures, including blood sampling, fin clipping and scale removal of fish for research purposes.

Beyond management of the fish room and sampling of fish, I have been involved in product development of aquarium products, delivering fish feeding prototypes (patent pending) and factory scale up of fish feed formulations for market.

In August 2018, I decided to change my career and become a lecturer in fisheries and was fortunate to find a position at Hadlow College in Kent. Since joining the team at Hadlow, I have been finishing off my Master of Philosophy, started a degree course in teacher training and delivered a semester worth of fisheries related units – a hectic yet enjoyable journey so far!

Previously living in a landlocked area most my life, but with a passion for the ocean, Plymouth was the perfect ocean city, with diving and powerboating on the doorstep and amazing coastal views.


<p>Tim O'Brine</p>

Elliot Kingsley 

Nutrition Intern at The Scottish Salmon Company

My MSc thesis focused on salmon nutrition, which sparked my interest in this area of the aquaculture industry. This led me to applying for an internship with SSC in the nutrition department, which I am enjoying greatly.

The time spent on my thesis taught me that although things won’t always go exactly to plan during projects throughout my career, the ability to persevere and remain flexible within the project objectives is essential to getting a good result.

In my current internship role, I am able to travel to some beautiful parts of the country to work at marine sites. I find the work itself extremely interesting and I think observing how fish farms actually run is invaluable experience, which is great fun at the same time.

The staff, facilities, field trips and social side of Plymouth made it the highlight of my University experience. I would absolutely recommend the MSc Sustainable Aquaculture Systems course to someone looking for further education in aquaculture.

Alex Shakespeare

PhD student

After I graduated from my MSc I went to work in New Zealand as I’d always wanted to see the country and their aquaculture industry, particularly the green lip mussels, is world renowned. I started work with a company based on the North Island on their boat responsible for stock assessment and keeping the farm up to scratch. I spent six months with them and then moved to the South Island to work on a freshwater salmon farm where I had a pretty similar role. It was a great way to get some practical experience of the industry, something I think everyone should do as it provides you with a rounded view of how things work. I have just started a PhD on the sustainable expansion of oyster production and native oyster restoration at the University of Essex.

I’ve been very lucky with my work, living and working in some very interesting places, from Kenya to New Zealand. I don’t know of many people working in marine science who’ve found it boring!

Muhammed Dogan Ozdemir 

Engineer in the Fish Breeding and Genetics Department at the Central Fisheries Research Institute, Republic of Turkey

I started studying at the University of Plymouth with one goal, to achieve the degree of education and practice my dream job requires. I have successfully completed my master degree in sustainable aquaculture systems at Plymouth and secured a position as an Engineer at the Fish Breeding and Genetics Department at the Central Fisheries Research Institute, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. I am involved in projects aiming to improve aquaculture systems and methods applied in Turkey.

I love doing fieldwork, especially data collection and analysis because only then can you tell if what you are doing is working or not. Seeing your ideas at work and the potential benefits you could provide to the environment, economy and to the fish itself is a great passion of mine. Things don’t always run smoothly, and in such times I would like to think that science is sometimes trial and error. 

I always believed that problems are actually opportunities to do better, to change and evolve. If Plymouth has a motto this must be it. Yet, I’m sort of a nervous person, I usually stress when I encounter problems and find it difficult to think positively in most cases. The calm and relaxed nature of Plymouth has enhanced my ability to face such issues and taught me how to turn them in to opportunities and seek help of others when needed.

Mehmet Emrullah Arafatoğlu

Expert in the Research Institution of Aquaculture, Turkey

“The University of Plymouth has experienced lecturers and technical staff in the field of aquaculture research. I gained a lot of knowledge and experience with the help of lecturers and technicians and the access to laboratory equipment and statistical programs. This enabled me to have a successful and enjoyable education and provided me with the necessary skills for my current job.

The most beautiful memory of the course was the experience in the sea bream and sea bass farm, production and business trips and the big tuna fish we encountered during this trip. Moreover, practical training about the production cycle of salmon fish farm created beautiful memories.

The location, it’s green areas, social activity areas, student life and being affordable makes Plymouth a beautiful city to live and study.”

Mohammed Balkhair  

Deputy Director of Fisheries Research Center, Governate of Dhofar, Sultanate of Oman

Mohammed received his masters degree in Sustainable Aquaculture Systems from the University of Plymouth. He took over as Deputy Director of Fisheries Research Center in Dhofar since 2015. He has worked as a principal investigator in almost all the Omani abalone projects in Oman and has oversight on all other ongoing aquaculture research programs in the southern region of Oman. Additionally helping to develop policies and guide the ministry in promoting the growth of the aquaculture sector and supporting commercial development.

Tamsin Cochrane-Dyet

Fish Health Inspector at Cefas

After completing her MSc Sustainable Aquaculture Systems, Tamsin joined Loch Duart Ltd as a fish biologist where she was responsible for salmon health, welfare, disease prevention and nutrition in both freshwater and marine production. Tamsin now works at Cefas as a Fish Health Inspector on behalf of Defra. The Fish Health Inspectorate is the competent authority for the diagnosis and control of serious diseases of aquatic animals (fish, molluscs and crustaceans) in England and Wales.

Gareth Hammond

Customer Consultant, Pentair Aquatic Eco-Systems

After completing his MSc Sustainable Aquaculture Systems, Gareth has held posts as an Assistant Manager at West African Fish Ltd and as Farm Manager at Pill Brook Aquaculture. He later joined Scottish Sea Farms where he worked on salmon feeding regimes and predictive modelling in terms of length/weight relationships. He now works as a Customer Consultant PentairAES, a leading manufacturer of fish handling, grading and counting solutions.

Nicola Pontefract

PhD research candidate

After completing my undergraduate degree in marine biology here in Plymouth, I was offered a place on the MSc Sustainable Aquaculture Systems masters programme. After graduating I took two years out from education to travel, working on superyachts all over the world as a scuba diving instructor. Although this was great fun, I realised during this time that I wanted to continue my career as a research scientist and returned to Plymouth to undertake my PhD, after securing funding from the university and an external international research company, Lallemand SAS. 

I would recommend coming to Plymouth for the enthusiasm. From the technical staff, demonstrators, lecturers, and professors it is clear that everyone has a real passion for their job, the research they do, and the students they get to teach and inspire: it’s contagious and motivating. There is undoubtedly some great stuff going on here in Plymouth.

Helen Feenan

Sustainability Analyst, Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation

I was fortunate enough to conduct my research project work on a collaborative international project headed by Dr Daniel Merrifield of the University of Plymouth. The project investigated the impacts of sea lice on Atlantic salmon, which gave me the opportunity to travel to Chile on two occasions to conduct research. This not only gave me professional research experience but also gave me an insight into how scientists collaborate worldwide to solve some of aquaculture’s greatest challenges.

I would recommend MSc Sustainable Aquaculture Systems to anyone wishing to start a career in aquaculture. It provides you with a broad knowledge base and great field trips that enhance your understanding of the aquaculture industry. The programme also allows you to tailor your experiences to suit your interests, something staff always try their best to help you with.

Lewis Warren

Currently reading for a PhD on the effects of light intensity and wavelength and Atlantic salmon at the University of Stirling

"There were a number of field trips to places like a trout farm, the national lobster hatchery in Padstow and to Greece to see the whole supply chain of an aquaculture company from feed production to hatchery to sea cages to fish processing. Being able to visit these places and make connections was great as it gave you a real sense of how your chosen course fits into the real world. I liked the ability to choose my own final project and that there was facilities available to carry it out. Being in Plymouth was also a great location for volunteering opportunities connected to the subject. I was given the opportunity to volunteer at the national marine aquarium and in local schools helping students with science subjects."