Team walking in a line, trying to locate Manx shearwater burrows and determine the presence of an adult by using callback analysis, Annet, Isles of Scilly


Lots of students benefit from having their PhD funded by the RSPB. Here, a selection of them tell us about their experience.

Graham Hambley

University of St Andrews

"Working with the RSPB allows me access to a vast wealth of knowledge on all sorts of landscapes and ecosystems, relating not only to my study sites on RSPB Forsinard Flows nature reserve, but also to a much wider range of areas and issues."



Graham Hambley

Paul Gaffney

University of the Highlands and Islands

"I am very happy to be working with the RSPB, as it gives a real life application to my PhD research. By being a part of the research team on the bog restoration project at RSPB Forsinard Flows nature reserve, I am helping to address important questions on current and future land management processes.

This really adds to the excitement of my project. I have always been a nature lover and the RSPB's aims are very close to my own interests."

Paul Gaffney of the Environmental Research Institute collecting a soil water sample as part of his PhD studies into aquatic carbon dynamics and water quality at Forsinard.

Renée Hermans

University of Stirling

"For me, working with the RSPB adds a broader experience to my PhD, as I now know what kind of things are going on in a nature reserve and also at the offices of a big conservation organisation like this. I think this will help me when I have to work with other organisations and landowners in the future.

For my field work at RSPB Forsinard Flows nature reserve, it is great to have people around who know the area very well and who can, for example, tell me what management happened up to 15 years ago."

Renée Hermans of Stirling University (left) using flux chambers to measure gas exchange between the soil/vegetation surface and the atmosphere, as part of her PhD studies at Forsinard (with research technician Rebecca McKenzie (right) of the Environmental Research Institute).

Sam Leigh

University of East Anglia

"My MSc project with the RSPB was a truly fantastic experience. Carrying out research in the beautiful landscape at Berney Marshes was a privilege in itself, but the academic support, survey training and the logistical assistance I received made me feel that the work I was doing was truly valued.

It also gave me a fantastic opportunity to see the breadth and depth of science that the RSPB does and how important their work is to nature conservation in the UK."

Sam Leigh