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Michael Skeeles (PhD, commenced 2020)

Deakin University, Geelong, Australia

I developed an interest for the environment as a young kid growing up on a farm in Zimbabwe. After moving to South Africa, I was fortunate enough to pursue this interest by studying a BSc in Ichthyology and Zoology at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. My undergraduate project, which identified microplastics in different size classes of mussels, was my first real introduction to the world of academia and I was intrigued.


I subsequently studied an honours degree in Ichthyology and Fisheries Science at Rhodes University. My thesis entailed investigating the use of heart-rate biologgers to determine the temperature range at which the cardiac performance of a marine Sparid becomes impaired. My passion for fish physiology and global change was consequently ignited.

I went on to pursue my Masters degree with the Southern African Fisheries Ecology Research (SAFER) lab at Rhodes University. Here, I explored the potential effects of exploitation on the wild energetic response of a marine Sparid to thermal variability. This involved using acoustic accelerometer transmitters to estimate the field metabolic rate of exploited and protected fish over a three-month period. Within the SAFER lab I was also involved in research on the physiological effects of catch-and-release angling on a variety of species as well as optimizing the efficiency of a commercially produced heart-rate logger.

An ever-growing passion for conservation physiology, climate change and the marine environment has fortunately lead me to joining the Clark Lab in 2020 to undertake a PhD funded by a Deakin University Postgraduate Research (DUPR) scholarship. My project will look at the physiological mechanisms driving fish to become smaller in warming waters. I hope to use this information to forecast the potential biomass loss/gain of fishes in a future climate. I am forever grateful for this incredible opportunity to join the Clark Lab and am excited for some amazing science on the horizon - all with a great team!

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