Tag Archives: UHI

Seabed recorders can be our eyes under the ocean

To celebrate World Ocean Day, Euan Paterson, communications and media officer at SAMS, provides insights into work to gather underwater audio data, including the songs, calls and whistles of marine mammals.

We humans are simply fascinated with marine mammals.

Perhaps it’s their size, the distances they can travel or that some can communicate across an entire ocean. Maybe it’s because despite those things, we hardly get to see them at all.

After all, species such as whales and dolphins spend the vast majority of time below the water surface and out of sight.

But what if, instead of trying to see more, we listened better?

Scientists at SAMS specialise in a technique known as passive acoustic monitoring, which involves positioning hydrophones (underwater recorders) on the seabed and collecting audio data, including the songs, calls and whistles of marine mammals.

On recovering these hydrophones, the researchers gather terabytes of data and have to identify which sounds have been made by which species. This helps them to better understand marine mammal movements, population size and behaviours.

Such monitoring will be crucial as scientists seek to provide evidence for a number of policy and conservation decisions, including Marine Protected Area designation and management, marine renewable energy developments, fishing, aquaculture and shipping.

It is also important for the conservation of marine mammals to understand how climate change may be affecting their migrations and feeding opportunities.

Some species are so elusive that scientists need to rely on sounds to even estimate their population size.

In the case of the Atlantic white-sided dolphin, the species is so poorly understood in science that there are few accurate estimates on population size, although the dolphin is hunted in the Faroe Islands. Unlike the better-known common and bottlenose dolphins, it prefers the deep ocean to coastal waters and is rarely seen by humans, making it more difficult to study.

Scientists at SAMS have been examining recordings of Atlantic white sided dolphins to describe its vocal behaviour – or acoustic repertoire – in literature for the first time. From that foundation of knowledge, the marine science community will be able to better study this secretive cetacean.

But, while there are certain sounds that are unmistakably attributed to certain species, there are many sounds that can remain a mystery. The development at pace of artificial intelligence, however, is helping to fill the gaps. Passive acoustic monitoring scientists can use existing sounds to develop algorithms and effectively ‘train’ AI systems to do a lot of the identification – the proverbial heavy lifting – for them. This frees up time to work on identifying sounds that are less familiar.

On World Ocean Day (today), SAMS scientists have joined around 150 researchers across the world in deploying recording equipment as part of the World Ocean Passive Acoustic Monitoring project. It is the first ever global experiment to record the underwater sounds of animals in our ocean, lakes and rivers.

The aim is to gain a better understanding of the distribution of sound levels and types of sound in those areas around the world that occur at the same time. The recordings will also identify any man-made sounds, revealing our potential impact on the underwater environment.

A video on the fieldwork can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/834131804

Meanwhile, SAMS has this week launched its #WhaleTalk campaign with the aim of promoting SAMS’ expertise in passive acoustic monitoring.

As part of #WhaleTalk, SAMS will organise a series of events throughout the remainder of 2023 and is this week launching its new Ocean Explorer podcast with a first episode on underwater sounds. You can listen to and download first episode here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1080152

To keep up to date with our #WhaleTalk events, keep an eye on the hashtag across social media and sign up for our Ocean Explorer Update newsletter https://www.sams.ac.uk/ocean-explorer-update

To find out more about studying marine science at UHI, visit www.uhi.ac.uk/courses

Darryl Geegan: Pursuing my dream career in nursing

We caught up with BSc Nursing student Darryl Geegan on pursuing his passion for nursing, where he’s headed next and why he chose to #LearnLocal with UHI.

What made you choose nursing with UHI?

Nursing is what I have always wanted to end up doing with my life. Exiting a 16-year-long career in hospitality during the COVID-19 pandemic put things firmly into perspective for me, and so I knew that it was my time to pursue my dreams.

I also live in Inverness, so it was only natural to me that I’d do my nursing degree where I could feel at home too. I already knew that UHI had a fantastic reputation and delivered an exceptional nursing programme, so there was never any doubt in my choice to stay and study here.

How have your student placements been so far?

I have been lucky enough to partake in a huge variety of placements in different clinical environments, which all offered their own unique learning opportunities. I have even been able to work alongside specialist nurses, ANP’s and consultants, which has helped enhance my knowledge in their respective areas of expertise.

BSc Nursing student Daryll Geegan smiling alongside a lecturer, looking at a piece of paper.

What are your favourite things about UHI?

The modern campus, the beautiful location, and the exceptional academic staff!

What’s next for you?

I would like to enter a position where ongoing learning and development is encouraged. I plan to advance in my career when the time is right, so it’s important to me that I have appropriate opportunities to gain the expertise needed to progress.

As Adult Nursing students, we cover a broad range of health conditions within our learning materials. This has equipped me with enough knowledge to confidently enter a workplace environment, ready to keep on learning!

BSc Nursing student Daryll Geegan with a fellow student, doing a heart rate monitor exercise.

And finally, is there anything else you’d like to share?

I would recommend the UHI nursing course to anybody considering a career in nursing, whether as a school-leaver or a mature student. If you’re compassionate, caring and want to make a difference to people’s lives, UHI’s nursing course is for you!

My last student days at UHI: workshops, performances, and airport inspections – student blog by James Bauld 

Join fourth year student James Bauld on a recent trip to Stornoway for his final applied music residential at UHI Outer Hebrides and performances at An Lanntair:  

For me, the final residency of the academic year, held in Stornoway, begins with the journey to the island. As the most important week of our academic year approaches, nerves are high, especially since ferry cancellations and broken buses occurred just days before. Having experienced the shortcomings in the past, I am not feeling at ease either, as last year my flight was more than four hours late, and they lost my luggage. However, I arrived safely, on time, and with all my luggage – albeit a little weary-eyed from my 4am awakening. A few friends and I were sharing a room in the Heb Hostel, which is within easy walking distance of everything we needed in Stornoway, very convenient as I haven’t yet learned to drive.  

Loganair plane at an airport

As everyone made their way to the UHI Outer Hebrides Stornoway campus in dribs and drabs, we were greeted with crepes in the foyer. The provided coffee was a much-needed boost before the stress management workshop and Anna Wendy’s refresher on session tunes ahead of the McNeills session night on Wednesday. 

Students waiting to get their crepes at UHI Outer Hebrides

I slept early on the first evening to wake up and sort out all my technology ahead of my honours project showcase in the evening, featuring newly composed Scottish tunes on wooden flute combined with modern technology. I had experienced some difficulties recently, having to scrap everything using my interface and midi triggers, but some pedals can do the trick, helping me entertain people through a forty-minute solo flute set. With the omission of a proper board due to luggage space constraints, I went about duct-taping everything to a lid to minimise slipping, as I can’t look at my pedals when I’m playing into a microphone.  

A makeshift pedal arrangement for my performance duct-taped to a lid

My mum came over to see me perform, so I managed to sneak out and meet her off the ferry, as well as enjoy some coffee and cake in the sun ahead of my soundcheck. Originally programmed in the evening were three of us, but one fell ill before the residency and was arriving later in the week, and the other’s wife went into labour a week earlier than due so left the Island, leaving me the last one standing. I was waiting for something ominous to happen all day, but thankfully I made it to my performance, and all was well. Another interpretation of this could be that I wanted all the attention on me, and so I sabotaged my fellow peers, but I’ll leave that for you to decide… 

Performing on stage at An Lanntair

My two favourite workshops from the week were back-to-back on Thursday. The first was Peter’s workshop on song writing. Before arriving, I wasn’t sure what I would learn. As a composer, I have never written songs and as a musician, I am painfully aware of how awful my voice is. From the moment we arrived, Peter had us instantly engaged (even on the morning of the last full day!) and gave us great information about audience participation, involvement, as well as how to refine an idea. As an exercise, we all started with general themes and kept delving deeper until we had the main core of our song. 

The second workshop I found specifically inspiring and useful was given by Sean Paul, the CEO of An Lanntair, the venue in which our honours performances and public performances were held. Sean Paul covered advice on booking, marketing yourself as an individual or band on social media, as well as philosophies on arts exposure in rural areas. Having grown up in tiny villages in the Highlands and Islands, I really admire what he is doing, showcasing a variety of arts in An Lanntair as well as providing opportunities for young people trying to break through in this competitive space. This was a super informative workshop with a great question and answer session at the end. 

Students waiting backstage at An Lanntair

On the last evening, we had our public performance where students from all years had the opportunity to perform for the public. This always feels like the week is coming to an end with people beginning to show emotions, as for many of us, this is the end of our time at UHI. There were many words of encouragement as we all packed up backstage and headed to the pub for the last time. I also handed out a couple of copies of my recently released CDs to the people that have taught me over the last few years. 

After our last morning, we had a few hours of free time and spent the afternoon in a very sunny Stornoway with sunglasses, sunscreen, and shandies before we all needed to get our various modes of transport back home. While flying back my checked bag was chosen for a “random” inspection. Due to the previously mentioned packing restrictions, all my clothes and pedals/tech were in the same box, so this poor member of staff was rummaging through the week’s underwear and tops to make sure my tech wasn’t a threat to the plane. Despite flying internationally, I have never had any trouble, having flown with flutes, pedals, and even crampons. However, 100% of the time departing from Stornoway airport, I have been searched. Starting to think I must look suspicious to the island locals! 

We need to come up with some sort of excuse to meet up again on a remote island now that our time at UHI has come to an end. My vote would go to Madeira – probably just as easy to access! 

Enjoyed reading James blog? Find out how first year BSc (Hons) Applied Music student April Sutherland enjoyed the residential. 

Steònabhagh Àllain: Beautiful Stornoway – student blog by April Sutherland

Join first year student April on her recent trip to Stornoway for the applied music residential at UHI Outer Hebrides and performances at An Lanntair:  

I arrived on Sunday night to get some rest and a good practice session in for Tuesday’s exam before all of the others arrived on the Monday morning ferry. We all met at UHI Outer Hebrides Stornoway campus on Monday and Anna-Wendy gave a welcome to us all before we got on with some sessions. Our first workshop was on performance stress and anxiety from Hez – he is great at what he does and puts things across in a very interactive way and taught us to try and make friends with our anxiety and use it in our performance for the better. We were then served gorgeous crepes at breaktime with as many toppings as you could think of!!  

Next, we had our session workshop with Anna-Wendy, we got to hear and learn some of her top ten session tunes. After this I also went to Anna Murray’s Gaelic song workshop. She was a fantastic teacher, and we all learnt a waulking song together called “Hè mo Leannan”. This was my favourite workshop of the week! When walking back into the town from the campus, Fraser and I decided to have a practice of our song for the showcase concert on Thursday, we played outside Lews Castle and took some nice pictures and a video for our socials!  

In the evening it was time for the first of the honours performances. We had Edie and Emilia who both equally blew me away! 

Day two was exam day. It was quite early in the morning, so I was up to UHI Outer Hebrides campus nice and early. Exam went ok I think, fingers crossed! There was a huge feeling of relief, and I was ready to get on and enjoy the rest of the week! I managed to catch the last while of Allan’s song class when back in town and then myself and some of the other first years got some lunch from the Stornoway Street Food Café which was glè mhath! (very good)!  

After this it was back to An Lanntair for step dancing, which I loved!! We had Anna-Wendy playing the fiddle for us while we danced which made it an even more authentic experience! Then we all went back to the campus for Allan’s talk on supernatural folklore of the Highlands and Islands. I’m really glad I went to this as I was absolutely mesmerised listening to Allan’s stories for the whole time, we were with him! It was amazing! He talked about stories local to me and stories involving people that I know personally, which made it even more interesting! At night-time we were treated to James’ composition portfolio performed live. This involved lots of hilarious travel stories as always with James and everyone loved it.  

Student James Bauld performing at An Lanntair

Wednesday morning we spent with Allan learning some tunes! It was a great workshop, and we learnt a handful of tunes and of course as always with Allan, had lots of stories!! The rest of the day was a little more chilled. We watched some more honours performances at lunchtime and then I did some study for my Gaelic class outside of the course in An Lanntair. In the afternoon some of us in first year were very lucky to have the opportunity to practice on the stage in An Lanntair with microphones etc. set up also. It was a great opportunity and we had such fun as this was the first time we’d ever played together.  

At night we listened to the gorgeous singing of Melissa. She sang a set of all her own songs and accompanied herself, it was just magical. After this it was session time! We all gathered in McNeills and played tunes until the wee hours. There was a fire alarm while we were there and being music students… Ben and Daisy actually managed to play along with the noise in the same pitch!! Spot the music students in the room!  

Showcase day!! I took part in Peter’s song writing class in the morning and really enjoyed it. I’ve never written a song and therefore learnt a lot and am currently in the process of writing my first song! We were very lucky to have the chance to have a chat with the CEO of An Lanntair in the afternoon, it was such an informative hour, and he was so helpful with how we should approach arts centres and venues like An Lanntair for gigs. Then it was one last honours performance before our soundcheck. At night we had our showcase concert in An Lanntair. This was amazing!!! I played alongside Fraser and we performed our song Angel Plays Dead. It was so well received, and it was so lovely to be able to play it live! Thursday was also open mic night in McNeills and lots of us sang songs and played tunes to those there! 

Friday morning kickstarted with a 9am honours performance from Robert who managed to come back to the island after rushing home to see the birth of his little girl!! Robert performed all his own songs, and it was a great way to end the week. Anna-Wendy said a final goodbye and we all parted ways! Myself and some of the other first years visited the Lews Castle Museum on the way back into town before the ferry. We had good fun on the ferry and were lucky enough to get to watch a coastguard exercise happen in the middle of the Minch! Over the course of the week I learnt SO much from those around me and was totally blown away by those doing their honours performances. We were meant to take part in at least three workshops over the course of the week and I managed to squash in nine so I was delighted with that. I have come home feeling totally energised and inspired and am in the process of forming a band with some fellow course friends!

Introducing: Stephanie Kirkham, new Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

“We are a progressive and unique university, proud to be inclusive, offering flexible and supportive learning from access to PhD level.”

Stephanie Kirkham, newly appointed Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, aims to cultivate a more inclusive learning environment, enriching experiences and collaborating with staff and students to support, promote and celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion:

Our staff, students, and the communities we serve are central to our future planning and vision of becoming a connected and diverse organisation. Enhancing equality and inclusion will ensure all staff and students can be the best version of themselves, regardless of their socio-economic background or protected characteristic (age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership status, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation).

Our ‘Daring to be different’ strategic plan is built around our core values: Collaboration, Openness, Respect and Excellence. Each value reflects the essence of equality and diversity, where we aspire for everyone to feel a sense of belonging. 

During Black History Month we are highlighting some online and in-person events taking place across Scotland.

Students and staff can also sign up to Santander Scholarships ‘Union Black: Britain’s Black cultures and steps to anti-racism’ online short course which explores Black British history, cultures and steps to anti-racism.

Further key dates coming up:
  • Monday 10 October: World Mental Health Day.
  • Monday 24 October: Diwali (Hindu, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists- Festival of lights).
  • Saturday 19 November: International Men’s Day
  • Sunday 20 November: Transgender Day of Remembrance
  • Friday 25 November: Elimination of Violence Against Women Day
  • Friday 25 November to Friday 9 December: 16 Days of Action raising awareness of Gender Based Violence
  • Saturday 3 December: International Day of People with Disabilities
  • Saturday 10 December: Human Rights Day
  • Sunday 25 December: Christmas Day
  • Sunday 18 to Monday 26 December: Hannuka (Chanuka)

Freelance February Recap: Insights from #ThinkUHI Creative Industry Experts

Did you know that according to the Creative Industries Federation, a third of the creative industries sector are either self-employed or freelance?

This article features a summary of useful insights from creative industries staff at the University of the Highlands and Islands, sharing their practical advice and links to resources to help navigate a career as a freelancer. The university ran a social media campaign labelled #FreelanceFeb throughout February to raise awareness and encourage a dialogue around the challenges, benefits and realities of being self-employed.

Build contacts and collaborate  

Stacey Toner, Creative Industries Curriculum Team Leader based at Moray College UHI, has developed her own arts organisation, providing work for freelance artists.  Stacey Toner

From the perspective of arts administration, her advice is to dedicate time to paperwork every week – and if you commit to a piece of work, follow it through.  Securing the next gig will often come from successful delivery and building a reputation of being reliable.

Lesley Mickel


Lesley Mickel, Programme Leader, for BA (Hons) Drama and Production based at Inverness College UHI gives advice for people doing freelance work:

“We have a flourishing performance culture in the Highlands, but this does require a significant degree of entrepreneurship and self-motivation…

Don’t wait for the opportunities to fall into your lap – go out and make them happen.”

Patience, determination and self-motivation  

Anna McPherson, Lecturer, Contemporary Film Making in the Highlands and Islands:

“It’s important that you work at your craft. Determination will get you through challenges and you’ll reap the rewards. Anna McPherson

Your work may take you to the four corners of the world.

I had the amazing opportunity to carry out documentary work in remote Nepal after the 2015 earthquake I’m planning to revisit this Easter.  Here’s a short extract of the footage.”

Frank ToFrank To, Art and Design Lecturer, Inverness College UHI.

Frank To (instagram @Frank_To_Artist) is a celebrated artist using gunpowder to promote peace. “You have to be prepared to go all out and break your limits. It’s better to strive to be the best than to settle for less.”

Develop diversity and be innovative

Professor Keith McIntyre, Interim Director of the Centre for Rural Creativity at the University of the Highlands and Islands:

“The notion of the artist working in self-imposed isolation is not an unfamiliar story. Keith McIntyre studioHaving private creative spaces are essential, however, I have found enormous benefits to collaborating with other artists or technical specialists.

Do seize opportunities to work on multi-disciplinary projects. It can be creatively and professionally rewarding. Returning to the privacy of the studio can be reinvigorated by this valuable process.”

Simon Reekie, Contemporary Art and Contextualised Practice leader at Perth College UHI: 

Simon Reekie, Trying to Understand detail 1“Outside my work at the university, I work as a self-employed artist and freelance art therapist.

Through working as an artist and art therapist, I have learned that it is vital to find meaning and joy in all the work that I do.  I have found a way to follow my passions and hopefully be of use to others at the same time.”

Faye Hackers is a technical knitwear designer and mixes freelance work with her contemporary textiles Programme Leader role based at Shetland College UHI:Faye Hackers

“Freelancing helps me keep my practice fresh and informed. I work predominantly with trend forecasting, technical structure design and technical shape design for kids and women’s knitwear at a high street level.

Staying on top of trends is a key part of working in design. I have a home studio, containing all the machinery and equipment I need to take on design jobs from afar.”

Katie Masheter, Curriculum Development and Employer Engagement for the Creative Industries Subject Network:

“Seize all the opportunities flung your way or seek them out. Never underestimate the power of your network and potential connections you meet day-to-day. There are lots of mentors out there who can help you hone your practice. Someone recently said to me; if not you, then who? If not now, then when?”

Develop good organisational and planning skills

Pete Honeyman, Creative Industries Subject Network Leader, musician and wood turner:

“Take care of business. Be proactive and professional with contracts, communications and finances, be aware of and plan for your responsibilities.  With that taken care of you create a safe and less stressful space to work and express yourself – which is the important stuff.”

It’s important to manage your money well, @HMRCgovuk have online resources to help you understand the different tax thresholds & what you can claim as expenses – all key if you don’t want to end up with an unexpected bill!

Mandy Haggith Literature Lecturer based at Inverness College UHI comments on the benefits of being freelance:

“The beauty of being freelance, for me, has been the ability to organise my work as an activist and researcher to make sure I always have time to prioritise my own creative projects, like writing my historical novel trilogy, The Walrus Mutterer, The Amber Seeker and The Lyre Dancers, plus grabbing opportunities for pieces of work that directly support my writing by helping with research for the books, such as working with archaeologist as a writer on an iron age dig.”Mandy Haggith 2

Mandy’s top tips for working freelance are:
1) cultivate a couple of really strong, core relationships with client organisations and be reliable and consistently available for them;
2) have a sense of where you’re trying to get to and regularly pitch for work that will take you there, even if it’s a long shot;
3) there will be times of feast (too much work) and times of famine (not enough), don’t worry; 4) take inspiration from trees, which root deeply, work hard when the sun shines and take time for resting;
5) don’t let work take over your life, otherwise what’s the point of being free?

Make use of the #supportingresources available and network, network, network! 

Blogs | Do you want to know how to make the most out of your camera? Llewellyn Bailey from the university’s webteam shares his top tips for video production, featuring short informative videos from our YouTube channel. Check it out

@CreativeScots support the arts, screen & creative industries across Scotland. As well as a helpful resource for funding and reports, the ‘Creative Scotland Opportunities’ page is where you can find and promote any role or position for free – sign up for a regular newsletter that helps keep you in the loop.

Business Gateway offers practical help for new and growing businesses. Online resources, tailored advice, workshops, events and business development programmes. Not sure if they can help you? Just ask!

Check out the Creative Rebels podcast – inspiring interviews with creative people who have rebelled against the 9-5 (and advice on how you can too). Hosted by David Speed and Adam Brazier, co-founders of Graffiti Life & Parlour Tattoo.

Scotland’s first Impact Hub serving the Highlands and Islands offer a flexible co-working space in the heart of Inverness. It brings together lone workers, to combat social isolation and encourage social entrepreneurship. A space to work and to connect with like minded individuals and organisations. Rent a desk for an hour, a day, a week, a month. Book a meeting room, join for coffee or a networking event.

With thanks to all the contributors and the University of the Highlands and Islands Careers and Employability Centre and the webteam for producing the #FreelanceFeb campaign.

The University of the Highlands and Islands Careers and Employability Centre offers all students and graduates support with personalised careers advice and support with skills development. Book at appointment via Future Me

Check out the list of Creative Programmes on offer to study at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Feel free to share your own advice and tips in the comments

Reference: Creative Industries Federation website https://www.creativeindustriesfederation.com/statistics accessed on 28/02/20