Emma Preedy, University of Oxford (a biologist)
The internship at Perm State University in which I participated for nine weeks this summer has been an unforgettable experience, which has given me the opportunity to gain valuable experience in fieldwork ecology, and has helped me to appreciate the value of interactions between scientists and researchers on an international scale. I have had the rare privilege of experiencing a style of science very different to that undertaken in the UK, and feel that many of the skills and much of the knowledge I have gained from this internship will be transferrable and useful to my work in the future.
This internship, above all, has given me a deeper understanding and fascination for the diverse natural world in which we live. During this internship, we participated in a wide range of projects. Support received for these projects came from the Perm State University, and came in the form of transport, food accommodation, tours and equipment. Each trip was ran and accompanied by knowledgeable professors from the university, who were extremely generous to us in giving their time and expertise. I am very grateful to all of them. We firstly went to the lakes of Socksoon village, where we had the opportunity to observe a variety of water birds, a fantastic experience. Our second expedition involved fieldwork at Preduralye Research Centre, where we investigated the diversity and distribution of flora in the region and wrote a report summarising our findings. We were then honoured to be given permission to visit Basegi, a nature reserve which is territory to 10-15 bears. We examined the flora in this region and wrote a report as a result of our work. This area was full of astounding wildlife, and I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to visit Basegi. Next, we returned to Preduralye to participate in an International Summer School. Here, I had the valuable chance to hear of research being conducted by Russian, Polish and Italian students at various stages in their University Careers, and also to present my research to international students. This was an extremely valuable opportunity which I greatly appreciated. On our next expedition we travelled to many sites across Perm Region to examine the interesting differences in biogeographical composition in these areas, which gave me an appreciation of how the distribution of plant species is affected by the geographical conditions of an area. Another highlight of this valuable internship was participation in a river expedition. This allowed us to observe black kites and other wild birds, as well as to collect plant samples. Our final trip to Kwajva was a wonderful experience. We were able, with the aid of our professor, to discover the diversity of fungi in the region, and by the end of this trip, had learnt to identify around 40 fungal species. This was a brilliant experience for me which I greatly enjoyed.
I am very thankful to Perm State University and to all the professors and translators who made this internship so incredible. The internship has taught me a huge amount about the culture of Russia, and about its outstanding natural beauty and wildlife.