First in our new series of posts from our students, mentors, facilitators and staff – this first post is from MSc Oceanography student Hannah Sharman:
“What does it feel like to be an octopus? To be a jellyfish? Does it feel like anything at all?”
So asks Peter Godfrey-Smith in his book, Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness. Just one of the manifold obscure influences to feed my long-standing fascination with the oceans. A somewhat bizarre philosophical inspiration perhaps, but the multitude of esoteric books I was reading on my daily commute into work were becoming something of an academic itch that I needed to scratch.
And then four months ago – the catalyst. I was listening to The Life Scientific on Radio 4; Jim Al-Khalili was interviewing Rachel Mills, the Dean of the Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences at the University of Southampton. As a renowned Oceanographer she was talking about hydrothermal vents, the rare earth elements associated with these deposits and the ecosystems they sustain. She went on to discuss the research that was being done to study these extraordinary environments amidst growing interest from governments and corporations interested in mining them.
I was suddenly buoyed by the knowledge that there were people out there with the dedication, brains and technology to ensure that these intriguing marine environments were better understood. And ultimately, that policy around exploiting them was intelligently informed. I went straight to the University of Southampton website and applied for the MSc Oceanography course.
Thirteen years after graduating from Durham with a BSc (Hons) in Natural Sciences, I have begun my Masters in Oceanography at Southampton. Having spent the last decade and a bit doing business development for financial services firms, and latterly running my own digital marketing company, I’m having to dig deep to get my scientific brain back in the game. But how rewarding it is to be able to study something I love day in, day out. And, one day, with any luck, I’ll do my bit to get others fascinated with the oceans too.
Hannah Sharman, MSc Oceanography 2018/19.