Alumni and Speaker at the INCISE 2021 Conference Ivan Hernandez

MSc Marine Science & Climate Change
18th May 2021
Ivan recently graduated Valedictorian for his class of 2020 from the MSc programme in Marine Science and Climate Change at the University of Gibraltar. He also graduated with a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Sheffield.
Studying at the University of Gibraltar has been an immensely rewarding and enjoyable experience. Not least because it offered an extremely interesting course on my doorstep, but also because it evidenced the direct relevance of the topics contained in the course on today’s changing environment on a global scale. The MSc programme has been pivotal in my understanding of the marine environment, the challenges and threats it faces, and the drastic consequences for life due to  our own actions for the medium to long term future. The programme also gave me an insight into how conservation measures, policy makers and other stakeholders hold the key towards harbouring possible solutions, adaptation and mitigation strategies to these problems.
For my final project I specialised in marine litter and did a case study on how litter affected two submarine canyons in the Celtic Sea, using high resolution video data analysis and multivariate statistics to determine how impacted those habitats were.  I found the subject of submarine canyons fascinating because they connect the shallower continental basin with deep-sea areas and are pathways for the transport of sediments, organic matter and nutrients into the deep sea. Submarine canyons are also biodiversity hotspots and provide important ecosystem services, such as nutrient cycling and increased biomass. The presence of canyon areas is often responsible for increased levels of some species giving rise to well-known fishery areas around them.
Being able to take part in this year’s online INCISE conference organised by the University of Gibraltar which is primarily about submarine canyons, is an incredible honour and a fantastic opportunity to learn more about submarine canyons and also know other science professionals within this field.
I will be doing a talk on the need for having a unified approach to studying marine litter in deep-sea environments and submarine canyons and a poster presentation on the case study of the submarine canyons in the Celtic Sea. I will be taking part in a marine litter workshop and will be part of the public engagement event. I am very much looking forward to this last element of the conference since it is about communicating different aspects of submarine canyon research to the general public and those who are not experts in this field.
Raising public awareness in scientific findings with easily digestible sound or visual bytes is key to research fulfilling its possible impact. Science communication was an important part of the MSc programme in Marine science, permeating throughout most of the modules and is something I very strongly believe in, having worked in design and marketing for the last 20 years.
For the future, the MSc programme has been instrumental in being able to change direction back into scientific research which I had wanted to do for a long time. I have been awarded a fully funded PhD from the Univeristat Politecnica de Catalunya from the prestigious “Formación de Profesorado Universitario (FPU)” funding call, studying dispersion and distribution of marine litter on the seabed with a view to include deep-sea research in this area, and will hopefully begin in October 2021.