A doctor who gave up her career to follow her passion for whales and dolphins graduates today with a degree in marine biology.
Kerstin Voigt had been working as a Locum Research Fellow at the Asthma and Allergy Centre on the Isle of Wight. While raising her three children she volunteered for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) and loved the role so much she decided to re-train.
Originally from East Germany, Kerstin and her husband moved to the UK in 2002. She said: “I’d been thinking about a career change for a long time so this wasn’t a decision I made lightly. I’m so passionate about the marine environment it just seemed to make sense to follow that path and I’m so pleased I did!
“I became more and more interested in a group of mammals called cetaceans, which include whales, dolphins and porpoises. When my husband and I moved to the Island being surrounded by water really sparked my curiosity and that’s when I started volunteering.”
“Igniting the enthusiasm of local schoolchildren helped me to decide this was an area I wanted to work in. I so enjoyed sharing my knowledge and realised how much more there was to learn.
“I grew up aware of environmental issues and have always been passionate about nature, in recent years in particular about whales and dolphins. Although the School of Biological Science doesn’t specialise in this area they have been hugely supportive in facilitating my research. “
Kerstin linked her honours project to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) and spent last summer working in Ireland at the Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Centre where some of the many tasks she carried out included field research on bottlenose dolphins and helping to tag basking sharks.
“I graduated from medical school over 20 years ago and didn’t think now I would be doing something so different but it has been fantastic for me to study again. I hope to continue with my research on whales and dolphins and to start a PhD this September.”
As well as graduating today Kerstin also wins the Beaver Bequest Prize for the best field-based project.