In 2018 Rebecca Ferreira was the recipient of the first annual MSDS Marine Award designed to support maritime archaeology students. In this blog Rebecca explains how the award has helped her career development.
I was awarded the MSDS Marine Student Grant for diving equipment in October 2018, just as I was finishing a Masters in Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton. I started diving in January 2018 and although my BSAC club (Solent University) provided me with loaned dive kit for training and fieldwork, not having my own kit could be limiting to the archaeological projects outside of the club that I could apply to as kit may not always be available. Winning the funding to purchase new dive equipment has provided me with more freedom and opportunity to gain experience on fieldwork projects both in the UK and internationally, as my academic research requires a substantial amount of diving fieldwork in areas such as the North Sea.
Without the opportunity to apply for the grant, it would have been a very slow and expensive process to acquire my own kit, but now I have the fundamental equipment, such as a BCD, regulator, pressure gauge and dive knife.
After I won the grant, MSDS Marine’s support did not stop there, Mark was brilliant and gave advice and helped me select the best kit to get the most out of the grant. For a new diver, with limited knowledge of the best kit to get, this was especially helpful.
Since receiving my kit in the post (which was very quick after I put the order in) I have been on two archaeological projects. The first project was in June 2019, excavating the wreck of the Invincible in the Solent with Bournemouth University and MAST. This was the first time I had dived on a wreck… and I was in complete awe! The second one was in July 2019, diving in the North Sea just off Happisburgh, searching for submerged palaeolandscapes. During this project, I found a mammoth bone on a low vis drift dive and it was my favourite diving experience to date!
Although I have no projects currently lined up for the rest of the year, having my own kit means I can sign up to last minute diving days and projects, aside from my dive training. I can’t thank MSDS Marine enough for their support with everything from the grant itself to the continued advice throughout the process of choosing the kit. Winning the grant has been fundamental in furthering both my diving and maritime archaeology career. It’s a fantastic opportunity for students who, like me, cannot afford to buy their own dive kit.