Matt Bentley’s first paper with a Bournemouth University Address was published in ICES Journal of Marine Science on 13 October 2015
Posts By / mbentley
Wednesday 10th June marked a surprisingly wet and cloudy arrival into South Africa after a near 17 hours of travelling, with the first day spent catching up on some well needed rest. The visit was to conduct research into the shell-boring worm Boccardia proboscidea, and ironing out the kinks of a novel method of pest control for this invasive species. Overall, the trip offered some very valuable experience and insight into academic and scientific research and helped further fuel a strong interest into all aspects of science. Most importantly, the trip was thoroughly enjoyable throughout especially with South African winter being akin to the British summer – discounting the torrential thunderstorms. I’d like to thank Matt and Carol for providing me with this opportunity, and wish them good luck with future research.
The 2015 Fusion Fund research project has now come to an end. The last few months saw two BU students, Daniel Wirepa and Claudia O’Sullivan travel to Stellenbosch to undertake the research project examining the development of a novel slow-release technology for application in the treatment of pest infestations in the abalone aquaculture industry. Unfortunately, Claudia had to return to the UK in June for personal reasons but Daniel stayed working in Carol Simon’s labs alongside Lee, one of her research students.
Daniel was working on the incorporation of a natural toxin, produced by microscopic algae, into a gel which acts to keep the toxin where it is required to act on the larvae of a shell-boring pest. The shell borer is a small marine worm that causes damage to the shells of cultured abalone (see previous blogs).
This pilot study will form the basis for a future research studentship which will link Bournemouth University, Stellenbosch University in South Africa and one of the world’s leading abalone farms in Hermanus, Abagold Pty, Ltd. The outputs of the research will be presented at next year’s International Polychaete Conference in Cardiff with Daniel as a co-author.
This short spell in Stellenbosch is now drawing to a close. We have achieved much in developing the relationship with the abalone farm, Abagold and putting in place everything that is required to ensure a successful visit by the two BU students later this (N. Hemisphere) summer. Received congratulations from the host, Charlotte, at the guest house for being in Stellenbosch on the hottest day in over a hundred years. On Tuesday the temperature reached in excess of 41 degrees and it was reported as the hottest place on the planet. The report on the visit is just about complete so just tidying up loose ends now. I did manage to find time to do a little pond-dipping to get a water sample for Genoveva Esteban (hopefully it will contain the mini-beasts that she is looking for). I think it may take some patient microscope work! See you all soon.
Matt and Carol Simon met with Candice Untiedt, a potential PhD student, who travelled to Stellenbosch from Cape Town for the meeting. Candice is working currently at the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town. She already has a suite of expertise, especially in the taxonomy of polychaete worms, which would be key to developing a PhD project jointly supervised by Matt, Carol Simon in Stellenbosch and Andy Mackie at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff. Candice studied for her BSc and MSc at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban in the Oceanographic Research Institute. After this she worked on the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme (ACEP II) studying macro-benthic organisms (bottom dwelling invertebrates) in the Natal bight. She has two papers already from her MSc and two more to come.
Candice is passionate about the marine environment and fingers crossed we can find a way to find her PhD research at BU!
Friday marked a successful visit to Abagold in Hermanus. Hermanus is famous for whale watching where the Southern Right whales can been seen close to the shore from September to November. The visit to Abagold by Matt and Carol Simon was hosted by Stoffel van Dyk who is their Operational Director. Abagold is one of the world’s premier abalone aquaculture farms producing the highest quality abalone for the export market. Abagold’s operation is sustainable and helps protect the wild abalone population from poaching activity. Abagold is also the industrial partner in the Fusion Investment Fund project. The farm will offer facilities for BU students who will trialling novel technologies for controlling shell-boring pests of the molluscs.
Here in South Africa kicking off the Fusion Fund project on controlling pest infestations in abalone aquaculture. I arrived safely in Stellenbosch yesterday after the overnight flight from Heathrow. It was nearly two hours late but actually arriving at 08.30 rather than 06.30 local time is not a bad thing. I met up with Carol (Dr Carol Simon) in the Botany and Zoology Department of Stellenbosch University today. Two BU students will be here on the Fusion Fund project early this summer so sorting out the details for their visit are the first priority. We need to plan all the experimental work carefully to make sure we don’t lose time and get everything done (I should say achieve all the objectives!) that we need to during their research visit.
This Fusion Investment Fund project is about to kick off involving collaboration between Matt Bentley at BU and Carol Simon at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. The research focuses on control of pest infestation of cultured abalone. Abalone is one of the world’s most valuable aquaculture products and its culture has alleviated the illegal harvesting of wild individuals. In South Africa, abalone and oyster culture form part of the country’s ‘Blue Revolution’ developing sustainable aquaculture. This project will involve two BU students who will work on the development of a methodology for use on abalone farms to manage shell-boring worm infestations which threaten the industry (the abalone’s response is to carry out shell repair/thickening in place of flesh growth thereby reducing the product yield). The methodologies will be developed in the laboratories of Stellenbosch University and then transferred to trials at the abalone farm of Abagold Pty Ltd in Hermanus in the Western Cape.
It is now two weeks since I joined BU. First, I would like to say thank you for the extremely warm welcome I have received from everyone I have met. For me it is both a privilege and pleasure to have become part of such a vibrant team.
As some of you will know, I am a marine scientist and have research interests in reproduction of marine invertebrates and aquatic invasive species. I have joined BU from Newcastle University where I had been Director of the Dove Marine Laboratory and Acting Head of School of Marine Science and Technology.
I have been fortunate to have joined Bournemouth at a time when it is embracing its Fusion agenda and at the beginning of the next REF cycle looking forwards to 2020. This makes us well placed to drive forward our research, alongside delivering excellence in learning and teaching and engagement with business and industry.
As a passionate teacher, I recognise the importance of maintaining a close relationship between research and teaching and will work closely with the other Deputy Dean, Keith Phalp to ensure this happens.
Delivering our research innovation into the wider community, whether to industry, business or society for the benefit of all will see BU grow in reputation both nationally and globally. I look forward to working with you to increase both the volume and quality of our research through strategic research and in discovery science.
I hope to meet more of you in the very near future.
Best wishes, Matt