An Interview with WiseOceans… Dan Harries from Heriot-Watt University

This week we chat with Dan, Assistant Professor in Marine Biology at Heriot-Watt University.  His advice is to keep the faith and follow your heart but he also highlights the importance of networking!

Name: Dr Dan Harries

Job Title: Assistant Professor in Marine Biology

Organisation: Institute of Life & Earth Sciences, Heriot-Watt University

What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?

I have always been fascinated by the sea and the natural world. As a child I accompanied my father hauling up his lobster pots and the excitement of what might be hauled up from the sea bed has never left me. It seemed a logical progression to study marine biology from a conversation perspective.

What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?

After taking a degree in zoology I did a PhD in marine biology and then followed all opportunities that interested me.

How did you land your current job/position? 

I was asked to look after diving operations at the university and became increasingly involved in teaching on the marine biology courses.

Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?  

The parts that involve working directly with marine organisms.

Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’? 

I think that raising awareness of the diversity and richness of marine life in our temperate waters is probably the aspect of my work with the greatest potential to make a difference.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?  

Nothing really. Perhaps that that perfection and timely completion of tasks is a balancing act. But I think I had at least some understanding of these things from the outset.

Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?

The benefits of networking and communication skills were perhaps not so obvious to me at the outset as they are now.

What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists? 

Keep the faith and follow your heart!

What is your favourite marine creature and why?  

There are so many and I like them all! But Flame Shells (Limaria hians) are one of my favourites. They are truly spectacular (for a bivalve!) and their enhancement of diversity of seabed habitats is also spectacular.

What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?  

Diving amongst giant kelp (Macrocystis) in clear water around the Falklands. A surreal experience like drifting weightless through a forest.


Thank you Dan, for more information on marine courses run at Heriot-Watt University, click here

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