PhD student presents research at the House of Commons

Photo by Paul Kay

School of Life Sciences PhD student Jen Loxton has been selected to make a presentation on her research work in Antarctica at the prestigious SET for Britain 2013 at the Palace of Westminster.

Jen, who is one of 60 successful presenters chosen from over 1500 applicants, has been researching the effects of rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide on the marine environment, specifically on tiny marine animals called bryozoans.

Rising CO2 levels mean that sea water is becoming warmer, more acidic and contains less carbonate ions, the building blocks for shell and skeleton construction. These combined effects are having a serious direct effect on calcifying marine animals as it becomes harder for them to build and retain calcium carbonate in shells and skeletons.

To research this impact Jen has been studying bryozoans, tiny marine animals which exhibit a highly variable chemistry within their skeletons. She gathered specimens diving around the West Antarctic peninsula, which is warming faster than anywhere else on earth, and is also close to where Captain Scott collected samples of bryozoans a century ago. Jen compared her findings from Antarctica to specimens she collected around Scotland in order to investigate the comparative effects of climate change both at home and abroad.

At the SET event Jen, a MASTS student jointly with Heriot-Watt, the Natural History Museum and the University Marine Biological Station at Millport, will be presenting the background to her research and her initial findings to a range of senior academics, scientists and MPs and is eligible to win a medal for best poster in her subject session. That in turn would make her eligible for the Westminster Medal, awarded to the overall winner on the day.