Jessica Rhodes

Jessica Rhodes


I graduated from the University of Essex, in 2021, with a BSc Honours in Marine Biology, where my research project explored the repeatability of startle responses across different taxa and the differing effects on survival behaviours. Following this, I graduated University of Essex again, in 2022, with a distinction MSc in Tropical Marine Biology, where my thesis investigated the ecological assemblages of the Norfolk coast chalk beds, which was pioneering research into the composition of such an under researched, yet valuable, habitat.

Outside of my studies I have completed multiple internships, developing my field work experience. In 2022, I took on the role of conservation field coordinator for an NGO in Costa Rica, followed by coral reef monitoring lead scientist for Operation Wallacea in the summer of 2023, in Indonesia. Whilst participating in these roles, my passion for conservation and active management of our oceans (specifically within the tropics) was intensified. As I begin the next chapter of my studies, I aspire to partake in further extracurricular adventures that draw me back to the tropics.

Jessica Rhodes

PhD title: “Understanding natural and anthropogenic impacts to the structural complexity, species diversity and micro-ecology of the Norfolk Chalk Reef MCZ"

Pioneering research at UoE, involving data modelling and state-of-the-art 3D photogrammetric surveying, has highlighted that the Norfolk chalk reefs have a high level of topographic complexity and may harbour 10- fold higher species richness than local soft sediment sites. However, no systematic analysis of ecosystem services of this habitat has been conducted. For my PhD research, I aim to address this gap in our knowledge, with state-of-the-art digital reconstructions of reef topography and eDNA analysis, complementing traditional methods of ecological assessment.

The outcomes from this research will be a component in the Adaptive Risk Management process undertaken by EIFCA and partner organisations to address stakeholder priorities in fisheries, tourism, and recreation, whilst maintaining the conservation objectives of the Norfolk MCZ.

Awards and prizes

Included on the Dean’s List of Excellence – Academic prize 2019/20 (University of Essex)

Other information

In addition to the coral reef monitoring lead scientist role in Indonesia, I undertook the role of teaching the research techniques course to the volunteers. Providing them with the fundamental skills to participate in the renowned research that Operation Wallacea conducts.