A day in the life of Honours Student: Megan Cundy

Megan Cundy from WAFIC's ICU unit, has published her Honours thesis.

Megan Cundy from WAFIC’s ICU unit, with her published Honours thesis.

After graduating from a Bachelor of Science majoring in Coastal and Marine Science and Environmental Biology with First Class Honours at Curtin University, Megan Cundy, has published her Honours thesis – an invaluable experience – one that she explains is her greatest achievement to date.

Megan has always loved the ocean – she began scuba diving as a teenager and was involved in her local Surf Life Saving Club since she was a little nipper. It was from a young age that she knew she would go down the pathway of marine related studies.

“I decided to major in Coastal and Marine Science and Environment Biology because I have always been fascinated by what the ocean has to offer and want to ensure its sustainability for generations to come.”

After her 3-year degree, Megan had the opportunity to do an Honours year and decided she would use the experience to develop new skills, as well as determine what field of expertise she would pursue.

“The experience lead me to undertaking my own research project with supervisors from Curtin University, Jurien Bay Department of Parks and Wildlife and Department of Fisheries.”

Titled ‘Baited remote underwater stereo-video outperforms baited downward facing single-video for assessments of fish diversity, abundance and size composition’ the paper compares sampling efficacy and the advantages and disadvantages of two different camera systems, a Baited Remote Underwater stereo-video system (stereo-BRUVs) and a downward facing Baited Underwater Video system (downward- BUVs), in the context of identifying appropriate tools for the long-term monitoring of reef fishes.

Megan’s research concluded that forward-facing stereo-BRUVs have several advantages over downward-BUVs for sampling and monitoring of reef fish assemblages including the ability to detect greater numbers of species and individuals and better accuracy and precision in length measurements.

“I am beyond excited that my research has now been published in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology.”

“The journey between beginning my undergraduate degree to publishing my first paper has been invaluable, I have taken every opportunity presented to me, carried out hundreds of hours of volunteer field and laboratory work and networked and collaborated with some amazing scientists. I completed my paper whilst working in the Industry Consultation Unit (ICU) at WAFIC which developed my understanding of WA fisheries and the necessary communication and leaderships skills for working in the seafood industry. The industry is very broad so I am very much looking forward to seeing where the future takes me.”

From one Marine Biologist to another, here’s Megan’s 5 recommendations to help get the most out of your degree:

  1. If you have the opportunity, do a Masters or Honours degree in addition to your undergraduate;
  2. Get as much volunteer experience as possible, whether that be data entry, lab work or field work;
  3. Get networking early on and build a solid networking platform;
  4. Put yourself out there, get involved and get out of your comfort zone – opportunities are rarely handed to you on a silver platter; &
  5. Maintain that drive and spark that keeps you motivated – for me that was going diving and seeing how wonderful and unique the underwater ecosystem is.

For more information on Megan’s paper or to contact her directly please email her via [email protected]

To access Megan’s paper click here