Biodiversity and conservation master student at University of Leeds

Charlotte Ndribe

"My speciality is plant ecology. I was awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship to read MSc Biodiversity and Conservation at the University of Leeds, and interestingly my field research project took me to Thailand. The project was ecology-based work on the distribution of riparian figs along streams. The aim was to determine the effect of distance away from streams on fig species and to assess the importance of these streams for fig recruitment and establishment. I spent about 6 weeks in northern and south western Thailand from the end of May to early July. I had to design the project myself, and my tutor put me in contact with researchers in Thailand.

Throughout the project I worked with PhD students from Chiang Mai University. I worked at 5 different sites, so I moved around a lot. I really enjoyed the practical work; taking samples and identifying fig trees, although the work was tiring in the heat and I got bitten a lot! I also made friends with people working on the FORRU project (Forest Restoration Research Unit ) under the Eden Project and went on an extra trip tree planting in Northern Thailand, which was a great experience. I really enjoyed having the chance to work in Thailand; meeting new people; experiencing a new culture; improving my field skills and applying theoretical knowledge - it was all great!

Thai village in survey area

While still a student at Leeds, I applied for doctoral studies in Switzerland and was awarded a grant to further my studies in plant ecology and phylogeny at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

My degree at the University of Leeds cannot be overemphasized as it was extremely rewarding. I benefited immensely and know that I am only where I am today as a result of the quality academic training I got while at Leeds. I had excellent tutorial instruction and guidance with courses structured to be applicable in real settings. I remain thankful to my project supervisors for the incredible patience and expertise they bring to teaching students.

I thoroughly enjoyed being a student in such a vibrant cultural and international setting. It was exciting to work in teams and exchange ideas with people from literally all over the world. There were challenges, but they only made me more articulate, efficient and independent. I always cherish and keep good memories of the University of Leeds.

My advice to other students considering the course would be to ensure you get the best out of your time by prioritizing and setting targets that can be achieved. Also, it is advisable to explore the range of modules offered, rather than just aiming to complete the required credits; focus on gaining relevant information and a broad horizon in this interesting field."