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Department of Zoology

Student at laboratory workbench

Enabling graduate students to thrive in a collaborative and vibrant community

We are looking to provide fully-supported Master’s or PhD studentships for very bright, well-qualified graduates who wish to start a research career in Zoology. Having independently funded studentships significantly increases our ability to fund such students flexibly and effectively.

Two students write about their research supported by Whitten Studentships, which were donated by a private benefactor.

Amelia Hood (began PhD 2015, completed 2019) The effects of habitat management on biodiversity and ecosystem functions in oil palm plantations in Sumatra, Indonesia

Oil palm plantations are now a major global habitat type. In these plantations, palm trees grow to 14m tall, and below them is often a diverse understory that is several metres high. Management of this understory is highly variable, some plantation owners chemically remove it, while others allow it to regrow. I experimentally tested the impact of understory vegetation management on biodiversity and ecosystem functions in oil palm plantations in Indonesia. I found that retaining vegetation was better for many animal taxa, including Leopard cats and ants. By conducting removal experiments on ants, I showed that ants were a key group for pest control and resource removal, which are important for crop health.

I am extremely grateful to have had this opportunity to work in the University of Cambridge, and in the nurturing community in the Zoology Department in particular. As a member of the Equality and Wellbeing Committee, I have come to appreciate the effort that goes into making sure the students here are happy.

Madeleine Emms (2017) Demography of Red Sea reef fishes since the last glacial period

I am using population genetics to study how different Red Sea reef fish species were affected by large-scale marine habitat loss and fragmentation during the last glacial maximum when the ice sheets were at their greatest extent and there was a large global drop in sea levels.

This studentship has enabled me to study at Cambridge, to work on a relevant and exciting project in this time of environmental change, and to develop more collaborations with colleagues by the Red Sea – a fascinating environment in itself.

How can you help?

There is a range of philanthropic options which can be discussed further with:

Dr William Foster 

Director of Alumni Relations, Zoology Department

01223 336615


Linda Hindmarsh
Senior Associate Director – Biological Sciences

+44 (0)1223 332288