FSC | Field Studies Council

Field Studies Council: Bringing Environmental Understanding to All

Our experienced teaching staff



Alex MacFie- Head of Centre

Qualifications: BCom Commerce, Mountain Leader (S), TCL, ILM 5

I have always been passionate about outdoor education and spend most of my free time out hill walking or mountain biking. Having spent most of my working life managing projects with a focus on education for young people, FSC gives me the opportunity to further develop both the educational opportunities available for all age groups and to extend my own knowledge of the marine and coastal environments. FSC Millport has outstanding facilities, a superb team and a huge variety of excellent courses so I am delighted to be the Head of Centre here.

Jack Lucas - Senior Tutor

Qualifications: Marine Biology at Plymouth University

Having spent most of my time in the outdoors from an early age, I am fascinated by the natural environment and the variety of wildlife that can be found if you look hard enough. I have a particular passion for the ocean, with my childhood love of water sports, sailing and all things marine sparking an interest in the creatures and processes of the marine realm. This led me to pursue a degree in Marine Biology at Plymouth University, where I developed a keen interest in marine mammal science and have since conducted whale, dolphin, seal and seabird research around the world, working with research organisations in The Bahamas, New Zealand, Australia and right here in the UK. After graduating I wanted to continue my passion for fieldwork whilst informing and educating others about not only scientific techniques, but also the wonders of different ecosystems and how we can best conserve them for future generations. This lead me to apply to become a Tutor with the Field Studies Council in 2015; a role where I could use my knowledge and enthusiasm to teach in an outdoor setting and away from the traditional desk-bound classrooms. Leading groups ranging from primary and secondary school pupils right through to university students and adults on leisure learning courses is a very challenging yet rewarding job, where I feel I can really make a difference and hopefully inspire others about the world we live in!

Now based at FSC Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae I am constantly amazed by the wildlife and landscapes that we have here, less an hour away from Glasgow! There are seals hauled out on the rocks, porpoises and dolphins in the bay, all manner of seabirds wheeling overhead and even the odd otter or basking shark sighted from the field centre! The facilities here are fantastic; the centre boasts it’s own research vessel for marine sampling, an aquarium and marine museum on site, newly refitted classrooms and a host of state-of-the-art scientific equipment such as electron microscopes and wet labs for students to make the most out of their learning experience here. It really is an extraordinary place to work, explore and learn!

Tom Stevenson - Senior Education Team member and Boat Crew

Qualifications: University of Manchester and King’s College London

After completing my studies at the University of Manchester and subsequently at King’s College London, I began working in 1989 as a research assistant at the University Marine Biological Station on the Isle of Cumbrae, now reincarnated and rejuvenated as the Field Studies Council (Millport) Centre. Involvement in a wide variety of research projects and programmes, in subjects including aquaculture, fisheries management, power station antifouling strategies, seabed mapping and organism ecology and physiology have given me a broad knowledge of a wide range of marine biological techniques and issues. My long involvement with ship-borne operations has continued at FSC Millport, now with RV Actinia, an 11m catamaran purpose-built for marine teaching. Ashore as an administrator ensuring our compliance with regulations, and on board as crew, I provide practical and technical advice to visiting course leaders and researchers. It has been my great fortune to have been involved with the teaching of marine biology at Millport for just over twenty-five years, ranging from primary school children first encountering science to postgraduate researchers perhaps a little further along the journey. However, I still learn new things about the marine environment around Cumbrae almost every day.

I built myself a stately treasure house Beside the rolling ocean’s swell, With cunning apparatus to disclose The gems below that dwell, - Those frail living gems “of purest ray serene” Oft frail, fantastic, strange and rare, Whose lives sheer mysteries have ever been, But need not be – with care. from ‘An Oceanographer’s Dream’ Walter Garstang

Christina Sinclair - Tutor

Qualifications: BSc Marine Biology, University of St Andrews

Having been obsessed with the works of David Attenborough since the age of 8 I always knew I wanted to work outdoors and by the sea. I’m astounded by the beauty and diversity of life in our oceans and this led me to pursue a degree in Marine Biology at the University of St Andrews. Throughout my degree I developed a love of scuba diving and have dived in Honduras, Thailand, Indonesia, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand and even balmy Scotland! My experience in diving and voluntary work in various aquariums also helped me to develop an interest in education. I am very concerned about the threat of climate change and the fragility of many of our ecosystems and I think public education is the best way to create positive change in our world! After graduating I worked in Edinburgh Zoo as an Animal Presenter, working predominantly in the Giant Panda exhibit and discussing their biology and conservation. Now working as a Tutor with FSC Millport I have been able to use my knowledge and passion to inspire others, whilst working by the sea. Teaching a range of people from primary school children to adults is a hugely rewarding experience and one which I hope will benefit the environment in the long term.

Hannah Wildwood


Hi, my name is Hannah and I have been volunteering with FSC Millport for 2 months now. I’m spending the next year on the island before starting my final year at university studying Genetics and Molecular Biology. I have a love of cute animals and have already seen bats, rabbits, mice, seals and the local dolphin. The staff here are very friendly and the food makes me feel at home. The town is lively with unique places to explore and adventures to be had. This year I hope to grow as a person and understand myself and the world better, make lifelong connections, improve my carbon footprint and efforts in green initiatives.

Marnie Sweeney

Qualifications: BSc honours in Applied Bioscience and Zoology at University of the West of Scotland

Marine life has been a huge part of my life since childhood - constantly wondering about the mysteries that revolve around the ocean and the creatures that live there. I have carried that wonder into adulthood, and over the past few years my desire to learn more about this elusive environment has only grown stronger. I believe that through education and encouraging younger generations to be more mindful towards a sustainable lifestyle is one of the best ways we can secure long term safeguarding of our natural world. Working at FSC Millport is a fantastic opportunity to put this passion to work and inspire people of all ages and learning levels to invest in our environment. I couldn't ask for better working in such a stunning location with a brilliant team.

Jack Lock

Qualifications: Studying Marine Geography at Cardiff University

I’m Jack and I’m one of the new placement students at FSC Millport. I am studying Marine Geography at Cardiff University. I’ve had an amazing first couple of weeks at the centre and the team have welcomed me with open arms. I look forward to expanding my knowledge of the marine environment over the next year.

Lowenna Hawkey


Hi I'm Lowenna and I am one of the new placement students at the centre. I am studying Geography at the University of Southampton and grew up in Cornwall which is where my love of the sea originates from! So far I've been here for three weeks and am loving the variety of things to do....each day is never the same. The highlights so far have been: seal and bird watching; kayaking in the bay; and learning about marine organisms and how the aquarium works. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the year and hopefully will spot Colin the dolphin soon!