Research Experience Placements (REPs) – Testimonials

  • The SUPER REP offered at Edinburgh Napier University in the summer of 2020 ‘Improving Science-Informed Crab Fisheries Management in Brazil’ was beneficial for both the participating undergraduate student from the School of Computing (SoC) and supervisors Prof Karen Diele, School of Applied Sciences, and Dr Simon Wells (SoC) in terms of interdisciplinary knowledge transfer and method development:
    – For software engineering student Maxime Greffe the REP was a unique opportunity to engage with, actively contribute to and learn from an ongoing UK-Brazilian applied research collaboration investigating the reproductive rhythmicity of an exploited mangrove crab. The main objectives of the REP placement for the student were to give Maxime the opportunity to programme an updated version of a citizen-science mobile android app, developing the server and database queries for the app and contributing to the development of a future-proof ‘mass-mating predictor tool’ to inform policy makers. Maxime very much enjoyed the opportunity to apply his computing specialist knowledge as well as acquiring new programming and bioinformatic techniques.  Moreover, he gained valuable experience of working in a bilateral inter- and transdisciplinary team with important lessons learned for his future career, including how to communicate complex IT matter to biologists and policy makers.  He obtained a very good understanding of the complex links between animal behaviour and geophysical cycles, gained significant practice in R programming for environmental data analysis and participated in online meetings with decision-makers from the Brazilian Ministry responsible for mangrove crab fisheries legislation. Maxime is looking forward to co-authoring a forthcoming scientific publication with the larger bilateral team.
    – For Karen, Maxime’s REP was perfect timing: The work completed with him, especially the finalization of the ‘mass mating predictor tool’,  greatly benefitted her REF 2021 impact case study. The predictions made using this tool informed the placement of capture bans for 98% of Brazil’s mangroves for the legislative period 2021-2024. The challenging time-line of the Brazilian Ministry responsible for the formulation and publication of the new normative act (SAP/MAPA) put a lot of pressure on the team.  Maxime’s skillset, dedication and enthusiasm was important for achieving the timely delivery of the information requested by the Ministry.
  • The 10-week SUPER REP offered at the University of Aberdeen from June to August 2020, working on a ‘Smartrawl’ project, provided a range of benefits for the participating Computing Science undergraduate student and for supervisor Prof Paul Fernandes, School of Biological Sciences:-Student: “This internship has taught me the various practices of software engineering in the real world of biological and environmental sciences, has enhanced my professional development, and built on my technical abilities. I had a chance to put many of the concepts and knowledge acquired during my university computing course to good professional practice.”
    -Supervisor: “During the summer, the student developed a software application following all the stages of the software development life cycle. This involved the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms to detect, localize and determine the size of fish from an autonomous stereo camera system and transfer this data along a computing pipeline to an underwater modem. Ultimately this will be used to convey details of the size of fish being caught during trawling operations which will help fishermen achieve more sustainable catches, by avoiding juvenile fish.”