Laura Collins studied Biology at the University of St Andrews and was a Highly Commended Entrant of the Undergraduate Awards in 2015 for her paper “Garden birds and their use of provisioned water”. Changing behaviours in birds and community migrations can be seen as indicators of environmental health. Her study investigated whether fresh water increases the attractiveness of gardens to birds, how birds interact with different water sources and how water use varies between species. Laura argues that this area of research is pertinent as an understanding of effective water provisioning would be valuable since providing artificial sources of water in gardens may contribute vital resources to species of conservation concern, which rely on urban gardens as an important habitat.
Having always dreamt of studying abroad, following graduation she never expected that she would be able to do so, not once but four times over! This was made possible through a scholarship for an Erasmus Mundus Masters Course in Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystems (TROPIMUNDO). This unique Masters programme focuses on researching the risk of extinction of many species through global warming. This is achieved through analysing certain areas that present the biggest risk to the degradation of the planet, for example land use and the destructions of habitats and tropical rainforests.
This important programme took Laura from Brussels to Brisbane, then Paris and Singapore, in a whirlwind two years that she will never forget. She finished the Tropical Biology Masters in September after submitting her thesis entitled: “Support base for discourses on mangrove forests in Singapore and assessment of (mis)matches with management and regulations”.
Some areas of the programme were incredibly challenging, but there were numerous highlights; above all learning about the cultures of new friends from all over the world.
"Crazier highlights include swimming in a lake with a crocodile, riding a camel in the outback, seeing wild elephants in India, helping a Buddhist monk shower the monastery crocodiles, eating bamboo with the locals in Vietnam and living with an employee of French vogue on Rue de Seine."
Laura has always had a passion for writing and editing, so she took the opportunity to start herown travel blog documenting her experiences :“Topical Tropical Travelogues” . The opportunity to live and study in these different countries also gave her an understanding of the fundamental importance of education. Laura has been a Trainee Editor with CGP books (an educational publisher in Cumbria, England) since January, which has given her an opportunity to grow her interest in education and writing.
If you would like to find out how to submit to this year's Undergraduate Awards click here.