Introducing our two newest members of the team: Alistair Gemmell and Dylan Philpott

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This week we have been joined by two new members of the team Alistair and Dylan They have both been employed through the UK Governments Kickstart scheme assisted by the Historic England Kickstart Gateway for heritage employers.

The placements give young people, aged 16 -24, a chance to gain valuable experience in a work environment while exploring the amazing career opportunities available in the heritage sector.

MSDS Marine strongly support this scheme and we are delighted to be able to give young people like Alistair and Dylan a chance to work in heritage as we believe they have a lot to contribute to the sector. In this blog Alistair and Dylan share a little bit about their experience to date.

Alistair Gemmell

Growing up in the Midlands I couldn’t have been any further away from our coasts. However, this has not lessened my fascination with what lies in the big blue seas. Consequently, I have developed a real passion for our oceans through marine management and survey.

Although I am not an archaeologist, this was a route which I strongly considered whilst being walked around universities on open days. As an inquisitive individual I am always interested to learn the why or how surrounding science and history and, in some cases, what remains to tell the story. However, in the end my inquisitive nature led me down a slightly different pathway and I undertook a BSc in marine biology at Swansea University before completing an MSc in applied marine science at the University of Plymouth.

With a background in marine science, I have been exposed to a number of practices in the field of marine environmental management and survey. As such, I have developed a strong passion for working towards responsible management of the marine environment and I relish opportunities to upskill myself in new survey techniques and the associated data interpretation.

My experience includes working in marine environments abroad. Working alongside marine scientists in Indonesia with Operation Wallacea, I was responsible for monitoring the reefs surrounding the islands of South Buton. This included deploying Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems from boats and synthesising the video footage to translate into scientific communication. I also worked within the local community, building relationships to educate on the damaging effects of marine litter left behind on beaches which unfortunately plagued the area.

I also have experience in managing freshwater and terrestrial environment. As part my degree, I undertook a year in industry placement with the Canal & River Trust. This included working within the environment team on a range of projects to effectively manage the Trust’s waterways. For example, undertaking environmental surveys, analysing the findings using various approaches such as GIS and dealing with them promptly and in line with relevant environmental regulations and procedures. I also worked alongside the Canal & River Trust heritage team on joint projects where I was able to gain an insight into heritage management.

I joined MSDS Marine in June 2021 as part of the Kickstart scheme as a Trainee Project Officer with a focus on marine geophysics. I am hugely excited to start in my role and combine my passion of history and marine management. I am also looking forward to exploring this fascinating career pathway within the marine field whilst continuing to develop my knowledge and experience in this area!


Dylan Philpott

As a young child I always wanted to be an archaeologist, history had always just fascinated me, however as I got older life took me down a different path and I drifted away from archaeology. That was until June 2021 when I joined MSDS Marine as a trainee project officer. In the period between these two events, I spent my time studying for a BSc in Geography and an MSc in Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Reconstruction.   It was my passion for the environment and climate change issues that lead me to decide to study these courses.

Throughout my time at university, I learnt a lot of new transferable skills relating to things like project design and management, report writing, producing illustrations, critical thinking. As well as a lot of more specialised skills such as, GIS work, remote sensing, photogrammetry, infield data collection, microscopy and various lab work techniques. 

During my studies I developed a particular passion for coastal environments with both my undergraduate dissertation (Quantifying coastal erosion at Marsden Bay using structure from motion photogrammetry) and masters dissertation (Mapping and Monitoring of the 2020 Mauritius Oil Spill) focusing on coastal regions. Both projects enhanced my abilities in problem solving, literature review, devising an appropriate methodology for hypothesis testing, data analysis and data collection. My undergraduate dissertation required primarily in field data collection with repeat site visits to collect photographs of the cliffs. These were then computer generated into 3-D models, so that successive models could be differenced to identify erosion rates. Contrary to this my masters dissertation was completed entirely remotely due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, this involved using remotely sensed satellite data from the  European Space Agency’s Sentinel 1: Synthetic aperture radar satellite mission. The radar’s spectral response was then analysed for possible oil slicks and from this it was possible to create a log of where the Mauritius Oil Spill was located and how it was developing.

Following my time at university while I was job hunting, I came across the kickstart scheme, a government scheme aimed to create new jobs for those 16-24 and on universal credit. I was then matched with a kickstart opportunity from MSDS Martine to become a trainee project officer through my work coach.

I immediately googled their website and was very excited about the wide variety of work they do, as well as things like their outreach work with young people through The Y Heritage project.

Initially I was little nervous about my lack of experience in archaeology. However, from my first interview with the company the team reassured me that it wouldn’t be a problem and that my transferable skills and environmental experience would stand me in good stead.

Now that I’m here at MSDS Marine I’m excited to get started, meet the whole team, and learn more about the world of archaeology!!

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