Pioneer

Ffion Davies, 27

Ecologist and conservationist
Studying for a PhD in Biological Sciences

We take freshwaters for granted but they are important for the survival of all creatures from the smallest to the largest, including us.  Life would cease without them.

I study macro-invertebrates in ponds, lakes and rivers. By understanding how they interact it’s possible to predict how a collapse in their numbers would cause fish, bat, otter or bird populations to crash.

My data, including species-level identification of more than 13,000 invertebrates, includes information on species never recorded before in South Wales. A local council used my Masters research to devise a new conservation plan.

So my dream of conducting high impact, real-world science has become a reality. I am starting to make a difference. I have a scholarship to continue my pioneering work at Swansea and am a specialist in my field. 

But forging a career is about more than academic work. Volunteering, teaching and demonstrating opportunities given by the university have improved my professional and personal skills.

I want to do more to educate children. If they can be taught to respect the planet that nourishes them, they will pass their knowledge to their parents. I may not change the world, but I'll give it my best shot!

At school I had started to believe I wouldn’t amount to much. Swansea University changed everything. Lecturers believed in me and I graduated with first class honours, winning two awards. I don’t think I could have achieved this anywhere else.

Swansea is a beautiful place surrounded by a diverse range of habitats and we get to go out in the field all year round.

It is so important to feel comfortable in a place where you spend so much of your life. Happiness is more important than we give it credit for and can make the difference between failure and success.

I am proud to be a woman in science, out in the field, undertaking challenging tasks. My advice would be: Don’t follow the crowd and embrace your curiosity – after all, look where it has got me.