From trauma to change maker: Sancha’s experience as a United Nations Climate Activist and Early Careers Researcher


When I was 18, I had a life changing experience as a result of a car accident that left me in recovery for two-and-a-half years and prevented me from living a ‘normal life’.

As a young person at the time, I struggled to see beyond my immediate physical restrictions; I now see that this period was a pivotal moment in making me who I am. My perspectives changed and my mantra on helping others, people and the planet alike really came to light.

In my first year at uni, I began to make conscious decisions to begin to build my skills and began to re-engage in environmental action. While pursuing a degree in BSc (Hons) Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology, I began to network with organisations like The Future Leaders Network and One Young World, while building my own ideas.

In 2020, I managed to secure a £5000 sponsorship from the University to attend One Young World (OYW) as a delegate – a summit which brings young leaders together with the likes of Dr Jane Goodall, Bob Geldof and global leaders.

My second year at university was when I began to hone my interests in environmental policy work, youth-led action and public speaking. I delivered a talk on behalf of the Marine Biological Association (MBA) and was a guest speaker at the MBA’s Young Marine Biologist Summit 2020. I was selected to be a member of the UK Working Group for the Y7 2021 Summit, where my role was to ensure the involvement of youth in policy recommendations for the G7. I also co-founded Ambassadors of Earth, a not-for-profit organisation that works to empower and support youth in localised community-led environmental action.

In my final year, I concentrated my dissertation on marine ornamentals and ecophysiology. In 2021, I was selected to speak at the 10th annual United Nations Economic and Social Council Youth Forum (ECOSOC) as part of the Planet session, ‘Accelerating Action for the Planet’. I was chosen to represent the UK as a delegate at the 17th United Nations Conference of Youth (COY17) and attended COP27.

I am now a postgraduate research student at the Doctoral College working towards a PhD. In 2022, I was co-awarded, with colleague William Jones, the David Henderson Inspiring Journey Grant by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology. This ongoing project titled ‘Flying Fish: The Journey of Marine Ornamentals’ saw us document the marine ornamental trade in the Philippines by working alongside exporters and fishermen, to bring to light trade practice and evoke discussion on its sustainability.

Through my research, I am looking at how we can utilise ecophysiological techniques in innovative ways to tackle key theories in biology and advise practice in relation to transporting marine specimens to minimise death and poor health. Working towards my PhD in this largely new and innovative field is entirely dependent on obtaining financial support.

If you’d like to hear more about my work or wish to get it contact, please drop me an email

Find your perfect postgraduate degree in the University of Plymouth’s Faculty of Science and Engineering

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