Ecology and Environmental Biology student at University of Leeds

Sam Ross

Why did you choose to come to Leeds University to study the above course?

I looked at the list of available modules across the 3 (now 4!) years and compared them to other courses and other universities. Ecology at Leeds was the course that appealed to me by far the most, I liked the sound of the amount of research and the amount of fieldtrips that are offered. There is a great balance at Leeds between research and theory.

What is your research project on and what has it involved?

I’ve been trying to understand the relationship between population changes and changes in species distributions; some species move their ranges without changing in abundance, whereas others appear to be shifting their ranges as a result of population declines. I have also been trying to relate these changes to species traits (lifespan, brood size, age at maturation etc.) to see if any specific traits make certain species more vulnerable or more adaptable than others. This involved collating information from a variety of existing datasets published in a range of formats, and running tests to see if any patterns emerged.

How has staff support helped you throughout your time at university?

Staff are extremely helpful and approachable at Leeds. After I finished the animal behaviour module, I contacted the lecturer to ask the best way to get a career in research, and possibly behaviour specifically. I was offered a meeting to chat about career prospects, which then led to us deciding to conduct a research project in the lab over the past 2 summers, with the aim of publishing a research paper and kick-starting my career in research!

What aspects of your course helped you to make friends? 

Fieldtrips are a great way to make friends. You get a chance to meet different people from different courses but who all sit in the same lectures as you, so it’s a great way to meet people who share a common interest. I met most of my closest friends on field trips!

What are your ambitions for the future? Do you have specific career plans? Has the University (careers centre/lecturers etc.) helped you with these goals in any way?

After my masters (MBiol) at Leeds, I intend to look for a PhD. I hope to forge a career in academic research, and have had plenty of help from my lecturers so far in achieving the early stages of this. I’m excited to see what PhDs are out there, and my time at Leeds has definitely set me up really well for advancing even further to PhD level. I will never forget the tonnes of useful career help and advice I’ve gained from my lecturers at Leeds; whether it’s offers to conduct research, suggestions to attend conferences, or just a casual chat about which parts of ecology interest me most, the staff have been invaluable in helping me choose a career path that I know will be perfect for me!